That first winter, cooing around your pink face
at the cradle, the purr of the wood-burner
flicking its long tail out into the night sky.
I was sent to the car for nappies and formula
but froze when I saw it laid on the porch:
the heavens condensed in its brown eye,
a frail bag of fur spilt a fine rope of gut
still warm to the touch as I went to move it.
Clawed from its nest into the cold world
sudden and bright and in a moment over.
This feline votive, carried across neighbours’
fields with that safe-breaker’s swagger.
Then nothing, for years, until the birth of your sister.
from In The Flesh (Chatto & Windus, 2010), ? Adam O?Riordan 2010, used by permission of the author.