Your cat: unphased
by the relentless booming and yellow
shrieks of a late-night electrical storm.
You: awakened to wonder
if it’s time—time to do something
as hail pings against shut windows
the way car wheels turn
on gravel. That’s it—that’s the setting,
action, plot, conclusion, neither
tragic nor comic, open
ended as 3 am in May.
Egg-sized but not shaped
hail knocks a fright against the brick
façade. Almost a century standing,
the building won’t fall down
in this maelstrom. The cat yowls
and races across the small-spanned
apartment (rectangle not railroad) before tornado
sirens begin to howl. He knows.
Windows open or closed, ricochet bent or pressure
cooked, twister real or exaggerated—this shelter for survival
may not withstand submission’s ache.
commands my attention
the way the dead
vines outside my window attract
hearty northern birds
and squirrels to the rummage,
demand that my indoor cat take
his instinctive position as hunter?
A stillness so loud
it wakes the early winter
in me to watch. Who?
She cannot know the words
she may shout
in her sleep—a sleep
she journeys to alone,
whether or not
she is alone in a room.
Her cat won’t tell. She can
make it up: “Please don’t stop
singing.” Or: “I’m falling
free, please don’t
catch me.” Or: “No, no, no.”
Or: “Yes, yes, yes.” Or,
she can let it be
a mystery, the cat
slipping into another room,
her arms resting overhead.