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The Cat

I have been trying to understand

whether this life is what we burnish for the next.

Or will we be undone.

Last week a feral kitten found me, and now,

mottled with ringworm,

she moans in quarantine in my kitchen

and hugs a catnip mouse made of felt,

A scrawny, contagious cat in a kennel—

she could be my heart.

Which is to say: yowl, darkness, prison.

Which is to say: aria, nocturne, home.

Which is to say: pushing words around,

the in-box and the out.

I named the cat Simone de Beauvoir.

Is that the name of my heart?

I don’t even like cats,

which she pretends not to know.

What does my heart pretend not to know?

Working at love

means abandoning the burnishing.

When I first saw her almost dead in the street,

I sat down and waited.

She circled me, coming closer,

until I was stupid and put out my hand.

The two of us in the middle of the street.

How could she think I know anything,

sitting in the middle of a street?

Now near the end of her sentence

she scratches the plastic kennel to get out.

What could she know?

Which is to say: need.

Which is to say: fear.

So many poems about the next life.

To make the poem itself a moral act.

Which is to say: heaven.

Which is to say: a larger room.

from Love Song With Motor VehiclesFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2003
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Alan Michael Parker Poems

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