What you thought were autumn leaves herded
against curb, spattered with bird shite,
is an oil-slicked kitten that won’t be licked
clean but continues to wander from the litter,
tumble into a ditch and climb free, curious
as sticking a fork in a socket,
but camouflaged from predators like an owl
feathered in sunflower yellow and burnt-sienna,
wing tips like petals, her head swiveling to face
you or the sun rising over your shoulder,
her nip as sharp as an electric shock
when you dare touch her young in bloom.
Charles Lauder Jr is originally from Texas but now lives in south Leicestershire. His pamphlet Bleeds was published in 2012. This poem was inspired by an exercise set by Ben Wilkinson as part of the online course ‘Dream On – Waking Up Your Poems with the Phantasmagoric’.