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My Last Kitten
My Last Kitten

Written by Lissa Michelle Supler

Parody of Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess"

Author's Note: A caul is part of a baby's placenta, believed in olden times to prevent drowning.

That's my last kitten stuffed and hanging on the wall
Looking as if she'd drowned without the hope of a caul.
That animal is quite curious, now: Dr. Hensen's hands
Worked busily, cutting and snipping and pouring---and there my kitten hangs, but stands.
Dr. Hensen is quite a stuffer and I do him pleasure
By the mention of his name. Will't please you to sit, at your leisure,
And look at my little kitten?
Some such as you can't help but ask, what's become of her little ear, was it bitten?
Was it cut? By chance,
Did I slash it in anger? My dear, turn not such a glance
Upon me, for the fault lies
Not with me. By and by,
You'll learn of my kitten's fate
And you'll not blame or hate
Me---you'll understand me
Better. It was a quiet afternoon at tea
And my kitten bounced about
And would not be still. I shooed her out
And out she went, through her little door.
My dear, you'll permit me discourse
As I paint this picture a little more---
My little kitten had a mind---
How shall I say?---kind
And o' sweet meekness---
But of such cunning and slyness!
Oh, she was often in good
Humour, but she'd sulk over her food
Some mornings. Some nights, she would be transformed into a weird creature---
Regarding me as if I were some hellish preacher---
Her fur'd be up on end, sleek tail gone coarse
And almost worse,
A mysterious, haunting look'd creep into her eyes
Of almost human quality. Oh, how strange she was!
To my eyes only, her laws
Of nature ne'er applying to any
But me. But as I was saying, tea?
Ah yes, I sat sipping
And my little kitten was slipping
Out her little door.
Night fell upon my home and a storm
Came up. I went out
(Risking my life for such a' one!) and looked about.
My kitten was no'ere to be seen
And I'd left the shelter of home and hearth, pursuing the moonlit sheen
Of some furry thing,
Which I took to be my mysterious darling.
The wind was mightily stirring
And the tempest was brewing;
The night before me was unfriendly and wild.
And there she was before me, her eyes as angry as a sullen child's.
I could hear the servants yelling
For me to come straightaway, but I, not heeding,
Star'd back at my cat
And no hand would be at
My wrist-and-joint had I not pulled away, for she'd hissed and bared her suddenly large fangs.
My voice rang
Out through the stormy night
And my kitten at once lunged at me with all her might.
I fell back'ards, screaming
And she sat on my chest, beaming
With an evil, inhuman smile
About her, her treacherous whiskers tickling my face all the while.
Then, a hiss---
And I feel in my bones something's amiss---
I feel sharpness in my cheek
My face my kitten's claws did seek;
And a thick wetness trickles
Down my neck and so heckled
By my little kitten there,
I started up and without a notion of being fair,
Grabbed her tail and hurled her about
And she, with a kitten's---yet almost human---shout,
Leapt upon me, tearing at my eyes
And finally I realized she lurked under a guise
Of kitt'nly sweetness, but waited
For a chance to let out her hatred
On the two-leggers, no matter her love
For me. She was 'way above
Such trash, I suppose,
Which makes no sense since she imposed
Upon my mixed feelings for
Her. 'Ah, no more!'
Thought she,
When she attacked me,
'This human tyranny shall end!'
Ah, my kitten! Oh, my dearest darling! Did I ever send
Thee away from me? Yes, once! One day, busy with an outdoor chore,
I let you sleep inside our home, without letting you bore
Yourself by watching me chop wood for our cozy fire.
Ah! Little did you know, my kitten, that my hired
Man had gone away and that I must chop wood for the day!
No, you did not know, and so you didn't expect to lay
So flat upon the rain-soaked ground, my forgotten wood-axe poised above
Your innocent little head! Not even for my love
Of you would I have such as 'ee 'round my home! I swing
Once, but I miss. My little kitten stirs at the dulled ring
Of my axe. You see escape, do you, my dear?
But you know you should fear
The sharp edge of the woodman's axe! No, you do not. My kitten is up once more and is going for my throat. The blood she sought
Is suddenly not there, as I move and bring my death-tool down
As I do so. I hit her ear---now do you see? And my own
Pet lies dazedly on the ground once more.
Suddenly there's a crash of thunder and the axe slips and she, seeing an open door,
Lunges at me again. But the squar'd blade is in my hands and I connect
With something soft; something warm. My kitten is dead on my axe, her evil checked
By one swift blow. Her blood is hot on my hands
And I stare at the chopping tool---and my kitten hangs from it. Dropping it, I stand
With horrified eyes looking at the redness around me.
It begins to rain again. Her blood and my own are washed away. I glance up to see
The sky and see it begin to clear.
I began to laugh. There was nothing to fear.
The long night of my kitten's evil was broken.
My dear friend, why do you disturb your own kitten? It has not yet awoken.
Did you not say your kitten was a gift to me for the loss of my own?

Copyright: Lissa Michelle Supler/Strawberry Sunshine This is original copyighted work and may not be reproduced in any form by any means without permission from the author. Permission may be obtained by e-mail.

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