I never could find them, my cat's bones,
though I know still they are somewhere near,
laid beneath the hackberry we cut down
to make room for the study we are building.
I have tried, thinking less about my cat's
attachments than my wife's, the unearthed grief
that wanders our yard, looking for the new
resting place and trees to give it shade.
These days are long, and the parts we play
lie down long before our bodies follow,
so when she saw the tree taken from what
was once our plan to take it, the loss seemed
more clear and thus more difficult to see.
I tried. And so broke ground like a promise
around the holes that soon would turn to anchors,
buckets of concrete to pin our floorboards down.
I loved that cat the way a room loves a door
that turns to sky each time it opens. Once
we held her high and said that she was flying,
pretended too to catch her purring body
which we talked to constantly, pretending.
She taught me, love is not quite empathy,
however strong those roots in us, not quite
what animal grace may or may not know.
I never could find her, nor the broken doll
that is her body, though I swore I stood there,
and kept digging where I just was until
everything went soft. Forgive me, cat, you
who lie down in the wife who lies in me
so deep no spade can find you. Hard for us
to tell sometimes. Was it pleasure or sleep
that closed your eyes. Was it you who flew.
Four Way Books