A Ridiculous Thing

I cared for a stray cat once,

dusted off, took from the

top shelf of the closet,

my old merciful hands,

and carried its

scrawny, living-carcass home

through the freezing night.

I gave it a home

in a box in my flat,

gave it a bath and a feed,

and glared at it

eating my food.

The ridiculous thing

filled me with great clumps

of repugnance and benevolence,

that churned equally

in the gut of my regard

for this broken world.

I stroked it gently,

while it shuddered

and even as my own stupid glow

quietly expired.

Superfluous creature,

skirting the edges

of the last dried up lake

of compassion,

did he not hate the

bitch-mother who

tossed him into this world

full of hard heads and

hard hands,

and hers the hardest of all?

And yet, he just sat there,

on my cold kitchen floor,

with a brutal hold on life,

purring, lapping up my milk

and spilling his

untamed benevolence

all over my floor.

What can we do?

That tenacious love

was only his need

to cling to the here and now,

to a fleeing warmth,

ardent for this life,

like one who knows

every other day is his own

personal apocalypse.

And my compassion?

I needed that here and now with him,

just the same,

needed corners without

hidden horrors,

corridors without an abyss

to gaze into,

just as others need central heating,

hot chocolate,

a DVD box set collection.

After two nights, I sent him back

to the wild,

with hard hands and a hard head.

I don’t know what became of that cat.


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