The Seventh Life

She begins to cry sometime after midnight.
Each howl a round, dry bottle
she casts over the water
only to watch it sink.
No buoyancy at all,
just the cool ink where it fell
silent, still.
In this house of warm flesh
every door is shut. Even her nemesis
is out of reach
closing in on a doe,
a black comma
on a pallet under a coat of winter wool.

She didn’t do this before. Never in her many years
has she wandered the house, pleading,
the inflection cresting at the end of the cry
a sustained note,
a hooked interrogative
dredging my drowned body
from the depths.

I would invite her in (I claim)
but never have, not once.
She kneads the soft places
with her claws.
It doesn’t so much hurt
as scrape the edge of desperation
and beg for a way back in.

There is no vacancy
in this fallow womb.
Even though she presses her longing
against the spars,
the sea of my heart does not surge
and my breast is parched.

She will have to let the light from distant stars
in through the portholes
of her eyes
and seek refuge
in its inadequate warmth
as we all do.

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