Thursday, March 24, 2011

Poem: A Cat, a Moment, a Flicker of Light

A poem that began to stew in my brain while cat-sitting for a friend one evening.


I'm watching evidence of my living
flicker on the ceiling,
just a mica speck of sunset light
reflecting off the cell phone that lays
on the skin over my sternum.
It slides up and down
with each breath rolling in and out
my lungs, and flickers side to side
with each beat of my heart.

I've been reclining on this couch
for some time now, stroking a cat
whose only company for these five days is me.
I give him food and water, but it is attention
that he wants for the most; he drinks mine up, devours it, ravenous.
Under my hands, he is restless and joyful,
pacing and moving and turning about as I stroke him,
his fur decadently soft.

I watch as the setting sun lights up his whiskers like fiber-optic strands
and makes his eyes glow an incandescent yellow-green.
After a thorough petting he settles down,
and when I lay my hand over his paws, gently,
he rests his head upon it.

Together, we nap on this couch under the sunlight.
We two mammals, creatures
with bodies that buzz hot with blood and a sweet, painful,
staggeringly intricate and miraculous life.
Caught in this perfect moment,
we sleep.

When I open eyes still heavy with warmth,
groggy and all-relaxed, I see that light
on the ceiling, that little lonely star-spot
that moves with the rhythm of blood and breath.
Its dance is only two steps that repeat
(hardly an exciting choreography).

Still, if glimpsed by him, I think
this cat would weave a wild chase following that light.
He'd run and leap, pounce and dash and whirl,
trying impossibly to trap it in his claws.

I do not seek to capture that light, because I know
that I already have.
It reverberates and pounds, glowing, shining
from every organ and tissue and busy scuttling cell
of my existence.

Until the sun has gone, and there is nothing above me
to see but a ceiling all in shadow,
I watch as my small freckle of light
dances.

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