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The winter sky hung down with all its weight 

upon the leathery leaves of the Rhododendron.


Nestled down below lay a four-legged creature 

with spindly legs and downy fur.

Glazed eyes and glazed blood wrapped around 

bone where it didn’t belong,


skin rupturing and rebuilding itself, 

thread and needle weaving    in and out, 

through matted fur and shards of bone, 

stitching life back in.


The eager hands of death were so near.

Its fingers dancing lightly over the wound, 

plucking away at tendons like guitar strings.


And as you stood there, you marveled at the creature 

under the Rhododendron

with its will to defy death, to scorch his fingers 

and leave blood stained on his hands,


a reminder that he is not welcome,

that this is not the end of a bloodline,

but the promise that she will live to see the Rhododendron 

bloom in the spring.

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