The Dry Taste

The cat falls
over on the kitchen table
after pushing into
a purse, a box of cards, the cover
of a laptop. Everything
she tries to rub
alive and convince
the genie inside to grant
her the single favor
of a scratch on the jaw
collapses
inert before slipping out
from under her
rapacious reach.

It is Christmas
Eve and her people are gone.
I have stopped
dead in the kitchen between provisions
and a nap, trying to summon
a recollection of another place
I surely must be
needed and ignoring
the sun that has returned
after two days of rain.
The cat would like the wet
food but I can’t bring
myself to descend
the basement stairs.
Until desire refuses
to be enough, she will have
her appetite
for company.

My son is with his
people who are not mine
anymore and never were
the cat’s. I am here
only for a minute. Mail, papers,
lights. The neighbor
girl comes around in her sash.
It’s been a year to the day
since I’ve eaten a cookie.
I sign the line for three boxes
to be delivered in February
to the inhabitants
of this house
as if they will be here.
As if plans are the same
as the story
that is written.

The cat curls into a somersault
that belies her age
and purrs deep
in a throat stretching towards
any willing edge. At night
when the low chord
of hunger strikes
loudest, no one crooks
a finger and scratches
at the upholstery
to beckon her. No one
hears, but I expect
she mews and follows
her own echo along the walls
as if the act
of calling is all the incantation
required.

I wait
until she is quiet
and still before reaching
for her
neck.
 

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2 thoughts on “The Dry Taste”

  1. Such density and delicacy combined so smoothly. I particularly love the way you dance across an awkward situation neither hiding nor illuminating the full depth of the the story.

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