W. D. Ehrhart  

The Simple Lives of Cats

    Cold spring rain drums hollow rhythms
on the windowpanes. Two a.m. The house
so dark and empty even the kittens
lie mesmerized by the echoing patter,
heads raised, ears twitching, eyes wide,
tiny noses sniffing the air for danger.

But the only danger here is me.
Once again I've lost it, temper flaring,
patience at a too-quick end, my daughter
crying, and my wife's heart sinking
in the sadness of another good day gone bad.
If sorry has a name, it must be mine.

The kittens don't suspect a thing.
One turns her head to lick my hand.
The other, having satisfied herself
this new sound filling up the night
is just another harmless curiosity,
stirs once, then settles in my lap.

Tonight my wife and child are sleeping
somewhere else. I've done this to myself
often enough to wonder just how many
chances I've got left. I stroke the cats,
who purr like engines; happy to be near,
they see no need for my improvement.
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    Copyright © 1999 by W. D. Ehrhart
Beautiful Wreckage, Adastra Press, 1999
This poem currently appears in Thank You For Your Service: Collected Poems, McFarland & Company, 2019

Copyright © 2011 - W. D. Ehrhart - homepage
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