There is cat pee on the floor outside the litter box, and I sweep it halfway across the room before I realize. Sable complains for breakfast, his voice loud, grating, ceaseless. I am kind the first nineteen times I tell him he needs to wait a little longer. Then I yell. I am angry when I fill the tube feeder with thistle seed, and I don’t know why. I trace the morning back, the incessant nagging, the cat pee, but I know I take these in stride on a good day. Is it because I got a late start, and like the cats, I haven’t eaten yet? Could it be as simple as that, only blood sugar, only chemistry? I sweep outside now, and a movement in the corner of the courtyard catches my eye. Sofia has her mouth full of Mourning Dove. I chase her behind the trash can, circle around the cactuses. I am yelling, “No!” over and over, waving my arms, determined to stop what may already be too late. But my gyrations and my shouting unsettle her. She pauses, and the dove escapes. The garden is all beating wings and breathlessness. The dove rises into the air and flies away, and I stand staring up after her, studying her wings. I imagine she looks off kilter, but her flight is steady. I watch her grey and white form as she moves into the sky, tears burning my throat, welling at the edges of my eyes. Please let her be okay beats inside me like a chant. I think she is aiming for the wires stretched behind the house. I must look away without knowing because when I check for her on the wires there is no dove. She must have decided to keep going, to put as much distance as she can between herself and her horror. I go back to my broom, changed. I finish my morning chores, feed the cats. I am not angry anymore. Later on my walk I see the Iron Tree Inn has lemons in their yard. I never noticed before, never even saw the tree. One laden branch reaches down, stretching over the wall toward the street. Two lemons hang side by side, bright yellow ornaments against the painted white bricks, a desert Christmas.
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