Monday, March 3, 2014

What I Remembered To Say To You The Day I Found The Cat Basket And No Cat

I wrote this poem about my cat, who died a little over a year ago. The poem is actually about how there are different levels of sadness, and how sometimes you're not quite sure whether something ought to make you feel as sad as you do.

But you do- and that is the problem.

Yes, this is a sad poem. Read it if you like sad stuff. Read it if you don't.


What I Remembered To Say To You The Day I Found The Cat Basket And No Cat

When we were in tenth grade,
your cat died the same day
the maple trees began
to shed their shreds
of crumpled brown 
paper bags onto the street.
You ran to the backyard to find
the body sucked of its pulsing,
and we could hear staccato 
sobs behind the shed.

People hate cats.
They kick them to the open mouths
of city sewers, where yesterday’s
leaves congeal like soggy cereal:
they set the dogs onto them
and throw heavy objects
after their receding skeletal shadows.
“People won’t understand,”
you say now, grinding a heel
into the soft piles of earthy tulle
above her grave:
“It’s just a cat. Just a damn cat.”

Sorrow is complicated, isn’t it,
when it comes in layers
of shallow sediment
rather than the ocean.
They will tell you
to get another cat, and no
one will realize that it is
like asking someone
who just lost his mother
to get a new one.

Yet, once in a while,
when you return from a night
of drunken babble like blunt barbs,
you miss the insistence of furry cheek
instead of words.
Sometimes it is easy to believe
that she will come bursting
into the house
from the winter rain.
You slide onto the kitchen floor
in the semi-dark
of Tuesday evenings,
gripping a cold cup of tea…

Keep thinking that she
will follow you on your morning walk,
keep forgetting that canned tuna
is no longer an item
on the grocery list.

Take the long way around
the park, to catch a glimpse
of the shorthair who lives
in the tree on the corner.
Take the extra ten seconds
for an inch of eyes
like orbs of mint ice cream
(like hers,) blinking between
the patterns of pine needles,
and nobody will say
that you’re a fool.

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