Shrödinger’s CatOber 2020
Today our cat died—
the one that liked to sleep
on my chest, head by my chin—
and I’ll have to take the shovel
out back and start digging.
One love of my life sat at a window
and we watched each other one
last time as the bus took her away
and left me to go find my gate.
From birth to two, our first cried
for hours every day. Novels stayed
shut on the shelf. My typewriter
poked at sheets of paper
like a bored bird in its cage.
Our two babies are gone,
twenty years turned them
into men who have moved
two thousand miles away.
Where was that apartment
we shared our sophomore year?
Did the train take one night, or two,
to go from Deland to Chicago?
I wish I could remember everything
we said on our first date. I wish
I could remember details from the births
of our sons. I wish. I wish.
Sometimes you have to dig a hole,
put what was dear to you in it,
cover it up, then go inside and wash
the dirt off your hands and splash
a little cool water on your face.
To a Cat Leaving the Room
When you first arrived
going on a decade ago—
alleged therapy following
the first of two heart attacks
that have since given me
new views on life and love
the likes of which I’ve never
fully expressed but should
perhaps in quotable poems
suitable for inspiring blogs
and lines of friendship cards—
I kept thinking you’d
kill me instead by sleep
deprivation or blood loss,
the thinned viscosity
pumping lethally as you
and your sister tore ass
across the savannah of our bed,
the topography of a rumpled duvet
your intricate Mammoth Caves,
my face and privates
your default launching pads,
out into today’s subsequent life
of leisure and insouciance.
[first published in Founder’s Favorites]
There is a Juniper framed in my window in Charlottenburg,
beyond, a street of leafy trees, a natural foods’ store, the friseur.
A song carried up here, someone whistling, “On the Veldt,”
no tinny digital sound, just breath and lips and waves to carry.
Today I sit at my desk, 3,000 miles from where I watched you die—
that Schrödinger’s cat existence each time I walked into your bedroom.
My sister and I drinking wine that tasted of California.
Days became nights became the last week which never ended
until it did. Sunset in the desert reflected off the oil dicks that night,
my sister’s face beautiful in her misery, in the Nirvana t-shirt she stole
from her son. Springtime. Now I am in Berlin with the Juniper tree,
motherless child on a leafy street. I can’t call you up and be irritated.
What I didn’t know then and what I know now
is that your annoying phone calls were my comfort.
Four months ago we listened to the soundtrack for Out of Africa,
your favorite, I read from Corinthians and you finished the verse and said,
“No more stories,” you were scared, so I stopped and gave you morphine.
And that last look you gave me, when you looked and recognized me—
the sweetest smile. A relief before you plunged back into the gloam.
For a moment the whole world just you and me and the death to come.