after "The Dream" by Marie Howe from What the Living Do:
Living the Day
Mike’s pace on the deck is light and slow and sure.
The planks shine. I see a leak, he said. He’ll have to fix it.
Things break everywhere in the house.
All those missing screws and lost nails! And now
the screen door doesn’t latch. A dog barks from next door.
I’d move away, but it only gets worse, is what
my neighbor said, creaking floorboards, rotting sills.
We’re here now. And the wreckage helps to ground us.
Mike’s pace steady from one day to the next:
the world is a place where ruination follows creation.
Sometimes the rusty nailheads show through the old paint,
but the yellow color looks good on the wall—that’s
how we age, right? There’s another crack.
The cat’s sprawl on the deck is curved and tailed and poised.
The birds trill. She peers and sniffs, eyes wide. She’s Sly Hunter now.
Days pass in rainfall and sunshine.
All those lizards swollen and hot! And now
she traps one with soft paw. A parrot caws hello.
She’ll catch lizards, but she rarely eats them, is what
I often say, lying whitely, to myself.
She sleeps next to me. And lizard breath is not sugary.
The cat’s sprawl ignores the world’s burdens:
the fate of humans in search of superior destiny.
Sometimes the rainfall dampens and thickens her coat,
then she runs under the house, a tree, a rock—that’s
what a cat does. Chooses her next spot.