It’s CatOber again at Escape Into Life. Look for the (subtle and not-so-subtle, present and missing) cats in these poems & photos….
Frequency (If There’s a Face There Should Be an I)
built with the static of a thin-ledge day,
the distinct, numbered steps of a cat
pacing the upstairs hall, sequenced orange
clouds lit by snow and neon : no cities,
just reflection and its consequence.
Shadowed hands press into window
glass, metaled and separate from
stale attic weather, slur and gusts of fallen
Invent a direction and take the second
exit after the left : house, town, mind : past
one blank sheep eating a blank field.
Rain Dancing Before the Wildfire
The sun was wearing its pink mask
and the sky carried the weight of smoke
on its muscular shoulders.
My neck went into spasms
that first wildfire day, but then
I thought I heard waves
of the Earth laughing, red sprites
rampaging like bright laundry
along the skies and ridges.
But far off on the sea, another mirth
is rolling steadily toward us.
It tastes of salt and charcoal,
of kelp and blue skies
collapsing in tears.
The rain is calling us, doing its dance
to bring us nearer.
It’s surfing toward land.
We call as one calls for a lost cat.
It calls back in echoes of last year’s deluge.
And it will begin to come in,
probably during the night,
first a spray soft as the breath of your beloved,
and then a mist, that smells of the earth
at last breathing,
and finally droplets’ patter on windows
like drumming heard
from across the desert valley at night.
A-Million-and-One Things Missing, Plus a Couple Items Found:
An orange male cat. Last seen patrolling the neighborhood. Answers to the name of Henry. Friendly. Snags robins right out of the air.
That winter night we spent in your new house. So recent you hadn’t moved in, you’d barely started—just a couch downstairs and a mattress in your room. And I didn’t . . . we didn’t have . . . God, you were beautiful. I wish we had that back to do again.
Eleven photo albums. Last seen in a house fire.
Not a six-year-old boy’s first tooth but the image of him with that speck in his hand, held up high as the Olympic Torch, and an open-faced smile full of Question Mark and Triumph and something else—a third thing—that I can’t quite picture anymore.
Her likeness to cartwheels. Last seen traded for
an Official Rule Book.
The Registry of Human Excuses. Recovered out wandering dully wherever. Answers to any of the following: Regrettably, Mistakes Were Made, We Intend to Cooperate Fully with the Investigation, However, On the Other Hand, Our Hands Are Tied, It’s Not My Fault That, You Need to Talk to So-And-So, You’re in the Wrong Line for That, I Hear You Sir or Ma’am but without Form 24B . . .
All copies of 24B.
And so many acres of our final forests I can’t count . . .
and I can’t count extinctions; they all subtract to forever . . .
and an orange male ricochet, answers to the name of Henry . . .
and snow—there used to be snow, a lot more of it . . .
and you and that night in that winter we didn’t really start.
When you’ve lost everything
go to the Church of the Nazarene.
When cats stare from bandaged trees
unwrap your Skid Row breasts in the hot wet air.
When lead leaks from your womb
remember the children who loved you through hospital glass.
When you’ve seen the abyss black as skin
let the preacher hold your feet in his two hands.
When your bee-loud brain builds a swarm
whisper sooty songs in the marketplace.
When craving opens its toxic door
you are a woman light as January.
[First published at Atticus Review, 2014]
And look for more cats in poems later this month and in the links below….