I It’s not just a cat dying this time. It’s Love itself, impaled in this blind arthritic flea-bite female, whose last hold on her destiny stares out green dinner-plate eyes that do not blink. The cat has not blinked in all her eighteen years. Our last pet — it’s come to this. Love dribbles out, flesh driven old and mad with it — the boy gone off, the girl grown — the dogs, the other cats, countless fish, the horned toad who died of a hug, the ones that turned bottom up, the ones that ran away, that ran in front of cars, gerbils, a hamster, a pair of ducks that never learned to fly but waddled out of the yard (when the steady V of wings beating north was seen in the sky) and into the mouth of the neighbor’s hound. II We went together to the spring near Eleusis, where Aphrodite bathed to renew her virginity after every act of love. I splashed cold water on my neck, drizzled some down the front of my jeans when no one was looking. The daughter back home heard the stories from this place her mother left her for, and when kittens were born — without father, without home, without owner or welcome — in the snaky damp crawl space under the house, the dark where no good child would ever go, she named them Hermes, Hades, Aphrodite. III Aphrodite, born without invitation, a wild thing. The nameless mother chose to set down her litter here, where we wanted pedigrees, wanted to choose our pets, abort the mistakes, spay the extras, wanted to plan which animals to feed, to care about, to pay the vet outrageous fees for, none covered by insurance. Hades ran away, after his mother, and with her entered the realm of darkness, and Hermes stayed, the favorite, quick and charming, killer of squirrels, the messenger, and Aphro, well, she was dumb and we made fun of her and she followed her clever brother around and looked confused, but she grew long hair, soft and gray and white as doves’ wings, and was gloriously, pointlessly beautiful. When she curled on the deck in the sun, a background to frame her would rush forward for the honor. IV She’s still dumb and her geriatric cat food costs fifteen dollars a sack, and this morning she walked off the side of the porch and fell in the aspidistra border. We’ve had four mourning ceremonies complete with songs, because we keep thinking she’s dying, and she will soon, I’m convinced of it. While we sit for breakfast at our small table with only two plates and not much to talk about, Aphrodite, the back yard behind her a graveyard of other pets, pulls her front feet under, wraps her balding tail around them like it’s a mantle of finest wool, and turns her head toward us, locks her eyes in our direction as though she could see, and does not blink, will not look away.