I've come face to face with it again.
I have this routine memorized.
I don't think you understand.
The scratches and bites keep it satisfied.
"No- not satisfied," you explain. "They keep it nourished."
You tell me to stand up straight, let our eyes meet.
Will I notice the skin color, stained with a shade of loss?
You tell me that it will smell my fear.
I imagine it will feel me quivering.
I imagine it will notice my bottom lip plumped and pouting; my eyes filling with tears- an ocean blue to match the grief.
You tell me to reach my hand out, run it over the sticky, flaky skin.
It will crumble on my fingertips, dry from the neglect.
You tell me to test the sharpness of the claws with my gentle hands.