The Crazy Cat Lady

“What do you want for dinner?”
she asks, and waits for a reply.
“Potato soup sounds good to me,”
she answers herself.
She bustles about the kitchen,
empty of children’s calls
and husband’s complaints,
and busies herself
with pots and pans.

The cats’ paws
pad on the floor;
they cry for food,
the little swallow birds
sing shrilly as they
settle down for the night,
and she hums a love song, empty
and hollow in this loveless kitchen.

The sun falls through the bare window,
for there’s nothing to hide outside but trees
and grass
that should have been cut three weeks ago.
It is low in the sky
and a goldenrod yellow.
She hums her songs softly in this
golden light.
And cries her tears
when the moon shines silver.

The steam rises over her head.
There is no grey
in her dark brown tresses,
but her haggard face makes it seem
as though there should be.
There should be age
in her delicate step;
a tremor in her graceful fingers.
But there is only age
in her eyes,
and only a tremor of her pale lips.

The three cats fight
for her two kitchen chairs,
so she stands to provide a third.
She doesn’t like to sit
when she eats
just to stare at the empty chairs.
Her spoon clinks against her bowl
and she pushes it aside.
She sits.
And the cat sits on her lap.

The frogs croak,
the cicadas buzz,
and her pen scratches the paper.
Grey ink.
White paper.
Words flow like the stream
behind the house.
The cats cry—
they want to go to bed.
She scratches their chins.
“Hush yourselves,”
she scolds, and pats their heads.
Grey fur.
White hand.

Click.
Off goes the brass lamp.
She checks the latch;
no one ever comes near.
The stove is off
and her one bowl is put away.
The little house is all in order,
the same as it always is,
and she looks out upon
the dark world outside.
And the tears start.

The mattress squeaks
and the bed frame groans
under her feathery weight.
The cats scratch at the door.
She lets them up
to warm the bed,
so cold, otherwise.
Her heart aches
with the loneliness she chose.

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