Blood. Puss. Missing hair.
More than that, though. Much more.
Sometimes unable to walk correctly. Rapid movement, like running or leaping, even more dangerous, haphazard, shaky.
I watch him closely. He lives on my patio now, or near it, and has for more than week, so watching is easy.
It’s also painful.
The wound on his head is deep, severe, a gash through to the skull. Maybe deeper than that, I think, if the symptoms are any indication.
And another on the back of his neck. The hair seems intent on remaining absent, a spot of bare skin with an equal on the other side, a perfect match for something attacking and choosing that spot for carnage.
But the head wound bothers me most.
When he tries to run, it’s all scrambling and slipping.
When he walks…sometimes…it’s all falling and stumbling.
Ear torn from the attack, I’m sure, as it appeared at the same time as the other wounds.
But he remains sweeter than honey, wrapping himself around my legs at every opportunity, rubbing against me like sandpaper in a woodworker’s hand, always eager for affection.
Still, the worry remains.
I first thought he had rubbed against wet paint, what with the smear of color across his head. Only after a bit of time did I realize it was a sign of infection, puss rubbed across his ear and eye, a beige indication of the wound I had not yet learned to appreciate.
And that voice. Raspy, child-like, a whisper from a being capable of so much more. A worrisome reminder of something taken from this predator.
Yet so full of love, so full of affection.
He pranced through the bedroom door one night as though he lived here. Perhaps he already does.
But followed me he did, a confident master sure of his universal superiority.
Still, the worry remains. Worry for the wounded, for the signs of what is amiss, for the apparent harm to which this beautiful creature has succumbed.
No room in the inn, though, no room at all. Not financially, for certain, and emotionally… Well, I lament my own inability.
Lament being the operative term, however, for doing anything less might indicate I lacked the bandwidth to care for another.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Perhaps that’s the problem. This poor soul, this wounded beast…how needful its path, how obvious its desire, how lacking its existence.
I have the means and will. I simply lack the financial ability, not to mention the living arrangements.
So I care for the wounded by the only means available.
That doesn’t seem enough.