literature on the small cruelties of life
September 22, 2019 10:00 AM   Subscribe

I need something, a poem, a book recommendation, a song, something to help me process the casual cruelty. [cw for animal death under the cut]

Today I drove by a kitten that was in its death throes in the middle of a busy road. I got home to grab my safety vest and then picked up its body from the road, and took it to a vet's office for cremation (I don't have anywhere to bury it).

It's a horrible thing and I need time to process it. Do you have any recommendations of a passage of literature or a poem that describes this kind of small, everyday, casual tragedy, and (ideally) comes away with some emotional resolution? I know I have read things that discussed this in passing before, but not lingered on it, and I'm having trouble recalling exactly what they might be right now.

Please give me your recommendations, and send along any kind vibes if you have some to spare. Thank you.
posted by snerson to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Philip Larkin's The Mower comes immediately to mind.

Not everyone would have had the simple decency to rescue the kitten's body. Thank you for doing the right thing.
posted by verstegan at 10:54 AM on September 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

I've found some solace in Maggie Smith's Good Bones.
posted by sohalt at 11:01 AM on September 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Not sure if this has an emotional resolution that will help, but there's Traveling through the Dark by William Stafford.
posted by Redstart at 11:06 AM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Auden's Musee des Beaux Arts is about the casual suffering we live amid.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:46 AM on September 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Can’t figure out links on my phone, but the Calvin and Hobbes raccoon story:
posted by FencingGal at 3:08 PM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

this couple of poems about the respectful treatment of the deaths of a kitten and a calf with birth defects brought me some comfort on the bad circumstances of my dog's death this week. it's a hard thing to have in your mind but i'm very grateful to you and everyone i see treating animals with kindness right now.
posted by gaybobbie at 6:26 PM on September 22, 2019

The Meadow Mouse, by Theodore Roethke.
posted by duvatney at 8:21 PM on September 22, 2019

Gerald Stern’s “Behaving Like a Jew” has a very similar narrative to what you recounted.
Also, check out a web site called The New Sent(i)ence for other animal poems like this.
posted by anggna at 9:10 PM on September 22, 2019

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