A Gift from Zhino, the Kurdish Translator at Kara Tepe Refugee Camp: pt. 1

by Marianne Peel


That morning
an orange tabby
darted out of the shoe room,
scrabbled over my feet.
and exited out of the back of the tent.

In the shoe room,
she had given birth to five kittens
and throughout the day
in between refuges seeking shoes and clothing
when translations from Farsi or Urdu or Arabic were silent,

the mother cat clenched her newborns
around the scruff of the neck
teeth sunk in just enough to secure the hold
and carried them out into the field behind the shop,
one by one.

By noon, she burrowed a nest of kittens in the long grasses.
There, the song of the mourning doves lullabied her babies to sleep,
eyes closed tight, secure and unafraid,
Mama feline standing guard,
ears pricked for intruders.

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