The Motile Ones

“There was nothing to make a fire from—only damp cold moss and sparse bushes the fire wouldn’t even put in its mouth, let alone digest.”
—Olga Tokarczuk, Flights

The digestive habits of fires
cannot be summarized
with one ash branch in hand.
My cat never got the chance

to curl up on a warm hearth
(as far as I know).
I grew up with them
in every house we moved to.

Even had an almost working one
in that last
New York City apartment
on West 98th Street.

By the time Jackson meowed his way
into my life, the fireplaces
cleared their throats
of bats, not smoke or steam.

He caught two. Never caught a mouse
(as far as I know).
He was a cat—
he would have let me know.

There was that incident
involving a candle
and some singed whiskers.
They grew back just fine.

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