While we never step in the same stream twice, the same story as we know it, the same dark room we wake and rise to, so too is there a river we never leave, which is why, as I checked my watch that morning before we drove to put our cat to sleep, I felt a heavy current at the backs of my knees, an invisible water on my arms, my shoulders, over my head, and at the bottom of it all our cat, oblivious, walking a crooked line, attending to her ritual of meat and pills. How deceitful we felt as we carried her trusting body, newly groomed, and laid it out on the steel table, committing ourselves to the final motions: the humming shaver over her leg, the needle’s slow insertion, a bead of blood in the gradual syringe, and her eyes, now milky with age, sealing up as her neck wilted, death’s white blossom in my unfamiliar hand. It’s as if some shine lay buried in the details, in the cold tray of sterile silver, the bright cloth and gloved assurance so vivid beside the shy confusion of our mercy. Such power in a final day it seems an overdose of life, a flooding of the open eye. No wisdom could prepare us for the prick and wonder, how her gaze would narrow as if in pleasure, the way I half expected to feel her ghost flitting through me, though I never did, the body released, we say, though oddly weighted, like a mirror the night had fallen into, cleared of its last ripple of breath.