Mary Elizabeth Todd was moved to write “Herod’s Babies” after learning that a woman everyone trusted in the animal rescue world was arrested for ill treatment and neglect.
The stories I heard wretched my heart;
The pictures seared my mind, and
The faces of the survivors scarred my soul.
It is the pictures I see when I close my eyes
Of tiny kitten feet lying in the rooms,
Alone and how their mothers must have hurt for them.
I saw the eyes of the mothers who grieved their little ones.
The depth of their loss was so deep
I could not perceive.
I thought of a story I heard- some say it is not true,
These forlorn mother cats and their lost kittens
Reminded me of the baby boys that King Herod killed.
King Herod heard that a new king was born;
He could not have that happen.
He sent his men to make sure that it did not occur,
For if this king dies as a toddler or a baby.
He could never be crowned king,
But he forgot about the mothers.
Mothers can be fierce when their children
Are at risk. The soldiers did not expect this-
Women obeyed and did what they were told,
But these women fought because they were mothers.
We never hear when the story is told
Of how those mothers had fought.
Those mothers whose infant sons were ripped
From their arms, and killed before their eyes.
Mothers who died trying to guard
Their toddler sons from the slicing swords of men.
Men who grew sicker of their task,
And just wanted it to be done.
When it was done the soldiers rode from town
With images of mothers weeping over their tiny boys,
Of mothers lying dead beside their infant prince
For in a mother’s heart her son is always her prince.
They reported the job was done but in their heads
The images never went away.
It is the images of those kitten feet
And the eyes of their haunted mothers
That stay with me and make me wonder- what went on in that house?
Mary Elizabeth Todd
July 1, 2014
Mary writes: “On June 19, 2014, the trust we had was shattered. Since she has not been convicted, she allegedly neglected the cats in her care and was arrested and charged with a felony act. From her house 50 plus dead cats and kittens were removed and 32 were removed alive- four of which died since then. They were starved and had no water. Some were never even removed from the carriers when they were handed over to this woman. The others are now in rescue with various degrees of medical issues.
I saw these Cats on June 26, 2014 at Anderson County P.A.W.S., the shelter that had them at that time.
There was one mother cat whose eyes haunted me.
I have seen pictures of her from the shelter. She was a protective mother and had lovely eyes. Now she was battle-scarred and losing one of those lovely eyes but the depth of her sorrow spoke volumes. She had no heart to live for. I believe it was broken. She died over the weekend.
Ash Truesdale compiled a massive photo album of these poor creatures rescued from shelters of their photos from the shelter. There was close to 500 photos from at least 16 shelters over the southeast from approximately April 2013 until June 2014. One friend had been to what most of us call the house of horrors and took pictures the Sunday after she was arrested with the landlord’s permission. The house and its lovely hardwood floors are ruined.
It is what I saw in these pictures in almost every room (the deceased cats were removed by this time) that has haunted me: tiny kitten feet.
Many of the rescued cats have medical issues, and the shelters are full. If anyone wants to help, please send me a private message on Facebook and I will get you information on how you can help.” ~ Mary Elizabeth Todd in Starr, SC.
Mary Elizabeth Todd wrote her first poem when she was ten years old. Her father was also a poet, and she remembers growing up observing him composing and reciting his work. Her poem “Hiding Axes” was published in the Oberon Poetry Journal. Mary is a retired foster care worker with the Anderson County Department of Social Services. She worked in that capacity for twenty-eight years. A 1974 graduate of Erskine College, she began doing cat rescue work in 2013. She lives in the woods in Starr, South Carolina.