Given the variables it’s odd
that things narrow down one way
or another, but they do.
Reminds me of the man
who had to knock on a door and tell
a woman he’d just run over her cat.
That’s awful, said the woman,
stepping out, as if to see it happen.
The man repeated an apology, said, Please,
let me replace your cat. Well, the woman
nodded, How are you at catching mice?
The possible variations
seem excessive for the task at hand. Not only
for the story of your life, but also
for the universe as we have it, rather
than the myriad other possible universes.
In both cases, finally, the way
that it is, is
the only way that it is. Infinite potential
options; one single one. Excessive
for the task at hand.
Of course, he moved right in. That’s
the violence of origins; the generative
splat of disaster. He fixes the roof,
hauls her ashes, but cannot find
much in the way of mice. Wonders,
sometimes, Why was this her
Life can’t possibly have the time
to hand-pick all these minute exchanges
so it must be narrative and need,
even narrative need, that creates
them, fills in the gaps, replaces
our murdered cats. A baseball game
or a day at the desk? Minute exchanges.
The answering of any question
is an attrition of possibilities.
A replacement, a companion.
Sometimes he sussed the cat itself had been,
at one time, a sorry substitution
for a rotten love, now over
and listing towards forgotten.
The story now becomes a comment
on her capacity for abstraction.
The lost love had burnt umber
hair, worked down by the docks. The cat
shows up one day in the woman’s worst
despair and who wants a cat? But then, she
sees his roughish orange hair; smells
fish breath and there you have it: romance.
By the time the cat is flat,
she’d loved it for its own array
of anecdote: the day it caught a mouse,
its extra toes, its appetite, its thick cat
hair on her goddamn clothes.
The central tenant, companionship,
eludes her. In this, she is not unusual. When
looking for lovers we often search for elements
of what we’ve grown used to. Ach
The man deliberates upon his actions.
Apparently, I killed this woman’s cat.
It looked and smelled like orange ruffi
and I done crushed it flat.
Now she loves me. I deserve that?
Yet she loves me, or says she does. It
would be nice if she could.
I will be vigilant
against the hated mice.
This life is mine.
Man knocks on a woman’s door, one
afternoon in late September. Air smells of wet
leaves and weather. Woman nods, steps out,
firming a clutch on her sweater.
Each glances over and their eyelids
widen as if a wind had come upon
two butterflies and breathed their four
wings open to new notions.
Well I hope you like the pictures and the poem. Did it work? Well, I suppose before I saw the yellow street cat I was already thinking about this poem, though I didn't have its title in my head, just the refrain "A baseball game or a day at the desk/ minute exchanges." So I guess I'll tell you about that, which is that I kind of work too much and have done so for a long time. It is a problem. The day I wrote this I chose a day at the desk, everyone else went to the game. Now I think I am going to join the small troupe that is off to pick up my son from pre-k, because though I'd like to stay and think about this with typing, I probably will have a lot of fun if I go. Our dearling friends and kid are staying here for a visit, so we'll all go. I'll walk around. Sunny day. Cold though. Everyone, up from your desks!