Guest poem sent in by John K. Taber
(Poem #1608) Cat in an Empty Apartment
Dieyou can't do that to a cat. Since what can a cat do in an empty apartment? Climb the walls? Rub up against the furniture? Nothing seems different here, but nothing is the same. Nothing has been moved, but there's more space. And at nighttime no lamps are lit. Footsteps on the staircase, but they're new ones. The hand that puts fish on the saucer has changed, too. Something doesn't start at its usual time. Something doesn't happen as it should. Someone was always, always here, then suddenly disappeared and stubbornly stays disappeared. Every closet has been examined. Every shelf has been explored. Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing. A commandment was even broken, papers scattered everywhere. What remains to be done. Just sleep and wait. Just wait till he turns up, just let him show his face. Will he ever get a lesson on what not to do to a cat. Sidle toward him as if unwilling and ever so slow on visibly offended paws, and no leaps or squeals at least to start.
(Translated from the Polish by Joanna Maria Trzeciak) In newsgroups devoted to pets, the passing of a beloved cat is often mentioned to a lot of sympathy. But often it is the owner who dies while the cat is the survivor, though this eventuality has never been posted to my knowledge. This is a wonderful poem by one of my favorites, Wyslawa Szymborska, the Polish poet who won the Nobel a few years ago. It is just like her to take an unexpected point of view, a little thing perhaps, and open a whole world. Add this to the latest poems on cats. John [Links] Biography of Szymborska http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/1996/szymborska-bio.html and of Trzeciak: http://www.pan.net/trzeciak/