By: Sangitha Aiyer

As I pass through an unmarked apartment building,
I observe a woman’s relationship with a stray cat.

Obscured by the shadows of happy hour light,
the dirt that has accumulated on the floor’s grout still shines, 

Yet she braves the grime to kneel down to him and 
he marvels at her whiskey-colored eyes, a shade that reminds him of a lioness’ gaze

She leans forward to embrace the scars that line his figure
and their skins collide like a mother’s breast to her child’s mouth

And he begins to feed, his stomach filling while her hand empties,
as her body slowly tears open under his tongue’s friction.

In biology class, we learned about symbiosis and now, 
I ogle at this synergistic relationship before me

The two species interact, giving and taking from one another,
just the way we learned in school

And yet, the adoration in her eyes and her unspoken promises of safety
seem to transcend science itself.

I recount the first time I walked through this apartment building,
futilely avoiding the dirt of the already stained floor tiles

Bathing in the ground’s filth, the cat’s skin stretched over the frame of his underdeveloped body
and his raw wail pierced the air, altering the ambience forever 

Then, the woman’s whispers of reassurance began to overpower his cries,
an outstretched hand that brought him to life.

She approached him and his wet fur nestled beneath her dome of flesh, 
his head rested on the crook of her neck as she rocked him back and forth.

Strangers in one moment and family in the next; her love:
sacrificial, constant, unquestioning.