Time to Keep the Cat In
This poem is in response to this week's Poetry Thursday prompt: time. It has me feeling both happy and sad. I am pleased that the muse visited me at 12:22 am recently. Pleased, actually, that she visited me at all, since I have been in a bit of a writing slump, of late. And, pleased, I should say, with myself for actually turning on the light, grabbing my journal and a pencil, and writing down what was so obviously a gift from the writing fairy.
However, I am not pleased with myself for not rushing up out of bed, flinging the door open, running around the yard, and scaring that darn cat so he would drop the mouse (which turned out to be a mole--the third in a series). If I wasn't so tired. If I wasn't in the middle of a nasty, nasty summer virus. (Who knew you could get a virus in the summer?)
I know. If I had gotten up, the cat probably would have left the mole maimed and suffering, only to return the minute I went back to bed. I know. If I had gotten up, I never would have recorded my poem. But killing for art? That is so not me.
Sometimes, I find it hard to be a cat owner. Anyway, thanks for reading!
Time of Death: 12: 24 AM
As I lay me down to sleep, I heard chirping,
a squeaking really, given the hour,
and the bedtimes of birds,
an insistent, repeating squeaking, fighting
to be heard above the cicadas constant hum,
and the slow steady breath
of my husband’s nightly tune.
The white cat had a mouse.
What at first sounded like bed springs groaning,
the four-year-old rolling over,
maybe, or lovers next door, windows open wide,
crescendoed, grew into mouse shrieking
for his life. Oh cat, your killing
is going to wake the children.
I wanted to cover my ears, slide
closer to my husband’s open mouth
drown out the cries with the warm rhythm
of sleep, but I was tired,
too tired to move,
as caught in the first stirrings of sleep
as the mouse was surely caught in the cat’s
front teeth. Poor mouse.
After which late-night feeding,
which local morning-news
random shooting, which war,
did I become a believer
in that weary, old cliché?
There was nothing you could have done.
Then, as suddenly as it began, the squeaking
quieted to a distant note,
faded into the cicadas silvery lullaby.
Tomorrow morning I will give the cat
a round of thunderous applause.
It’s what good cat owners are supposed to do.