Charlie and Butch

July 8th, 2012

I wrote this poem back in 2005, the year after the official end of the marriage alluded to in it, a little over twenty years after my  period of cohabitation with Charlie Cat, and only a couple of years after I briefly was Butch’s house guest. 

When I first moved here, to the spot on the floor
no bigger than a coffin, of Stephen and Deb’s living room –
no mattress, bare dark wood, shiny slats I laid
my six feet of closed cell foam pad on –

temporary digs until I found a place
of more permanence for the woman of more
permanence for whom I’d moved here, future mother
of our kids – although they barely twinkled in the dark back then –

Deborah’s Charlie Cat had skin cancer, bloody blobs sprouting
out from his face that left trails of droplets smeared
here and there across the otherwise empty except for dust
hard field where I slept,

and every night when I laid me down
alone I feared his company, the touch of his warm
fluid deformity while I slept, unknowing,
that could be on me when I woke, crusting,

although in plain and boring fact that never happened.
Now Charlie has a successor, the vigorously named Butch.
He’s nineteen.  His left hind leg last weekend
seemed a little stiff, and he lay coiled not like a spring

but more like a frayed old piece of rope
most of the afternoon I visited, and at first I hesitated,
when he lifted his head and blinked those old slow eyes
out over the edge of the couch, his forelegs stiffly erect,

supporting, to close my hands around that fragile rib cage
and hoist its package of breathing lungs and beating heart and – whatever –
off the futon up into the oil heated forced air nowhere,
scruffy old thing, and lower him ‘til his paws touched ground.

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 8th, 2012 at 4:00 pm and is filed under Poems. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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