issue 11 FEATURE

Ladan Osman

A white kitten mews just beyond the patio,

tosses its head beyond the parking lot. I dread it.
I bring tuna in a Styrofoam cup. It refuses.

I bring water and wait. Sweat collects in the lines
on my neck. Still it refuses and gestures until I come

to a hole under the fence between lot and road.
I can’t follow. Ants bite my toes and between them,

and the tuna, too. It leads me back to my patio,
back to the fence. After an hour I’m nearly in tears

and thinking, I’ll go inside and enjoy my tea
and refuse any kitten that returns. Then, a heron.

White, too. It’s large next to Texas trucks. I think,
suppose it kills me. What an absurd way to die.

It stands on a leg. Opens its wings, noisy curtain.
The heron waits. I don’t ask it not to speak

because what if it answers? Suppose it’s here to
guide my soul under that hole? Who can argue

with a heron when it’s eleven o’clock and still too hot?
It goes. The kitten doesn’t return. I cry into my hands.

Tears collect between my fingers. I wait until a gray hour.
A few ants stay in the tuna. Others leave blisters on my feet.


Ladan Osman was born in Somalia. Her full-length collection, The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (University of Nebraska Press, 2015), won the Sillerman First Book Prize. Osman has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Cave Canem, and the Michener Center. She is a contributing editor at The Offing and lives in Chicago.