We Named Her Karma
In her dotage, our cat grows profound.
She sits close to our faces,
stares into us with her jaundiced eyes,
stretches out one paw in our direction.
"These are my people. Family is all
that matters. As long as we are
together, that is enough."
She starts the night in bed with us,
but can't sleep, all her unfulfilled
dreams gnawing at her, waking
her from her restless slumber.
She stalks the silent house looking for her youth.
"Remember how you always thought, when I stared into
an empty corner, that I was staring at
dead people? You were right."
Sometimes she curses at us, chastising us for
not filling her food fast enough. "Where the hell
have you been? I'm dying, dammit!" She gulps the
drips the second the shower stops, like the water is her life
escaping down the drain. But it's alright. She's in pain, so we
forgive her hostile idiosyncrasies. Sometimes
she sits in the wet shower, not drinking, just waiting.
She wants us to know she goes in peace.
"I forgive you all the times you tripped over me as
I sat in the absolute center of the kitchen floor.
I forgive you all the times you locked me in
the basement, not wanting my rattling of the closet
to awaken you at 5 a.m. when you'd just rocked the
babies back to sleep at 2.
I forgive you all the times you yelled at me when
I threw up. I can't blame you; I wouldn't want to
clean up that mess either, especially off the carpet."
She anticipates her imminent mortality.
"Soon," she says, "when I stare into an empty corner,
I will be staring at myself."