The New Cat Cries When the Door Closes Between Us

Frank pets the new cat

that matches his freckles, matches his

arm hair, long and lean, the spine

shelving of its malnourished

body, a luxurious tail

curls over the crook

of Frank’s clavicle.

Minutes have passed

and the kitchen is on fire

or the water is boiling, at least.

I turn off the burner and the old cat

dead at my feet. It’s a pile

of coffee grounds, in the shape of

a collapsed cat, in the shape of

a pile, it’s swept up, it’s in

the trash.

For weeks

the new cat has lain

on Frank’s chest, Frank

asking did he know?

In the shelter, did he know

he might die?

How many cats

huddled in the corner

of that metal cage before him.

The new cat breathing

and purring and

ear-tipped, eye-gooped,

sneezing on Frank’s hands.

We make patterns.

My heart with its beats,

a cement mixer

keeps turning.

The coat the old cat

rested on hangs

in my closet, the overhead light

burnt out. I pull the chain

each morning, forgetting and then sideswiped

remembering the light, the coat, the cat,

the cat.

Something I know

but don’t understand

is math. Is, an adult

will recreate what she knows

from her childhood,

somehow if not

in many ways.

If I will be left and I will be left—when, when

there are two routes,

loss behind me

and there is forward

and Frank—

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