Like the red ribbon of an open hymnal,
he nestles supine
in the valley of my cupped hands,
baby bird mouth agape,
round as an apple,
narrow pink tongue lolloping like a thirsty hound,
SQUEALING, SQUEALING, SQUEALING protest,
a cornered mouse about to be swallowed whole,
pink belly raging through sopping wet white curls,
bony hind legs spread wide,
quivering bow strings.
Armed with tweezers,
I pick at fleas drowned in Fiji-blue shampoo psunami,
squish their little brown torpedo corpses into cardboard,
two half fleas,
whisk them away with scalding water.
Twenty less blood-thirsty parasites!
I wrap him in my towel,
feel for his delicate, frail,
vulnerable body quaking in my grasp,
hug him to me, wet and all.