“I wonder if Poe in His Most Extravagant Hallucinations…” - Paul Bowles

for Eva

This is not a poem about moonlight
but November shadows elongated
around a house
where inside seven cats have huddled
for days awaiting their still mistress
to feed them
while the neighbors
note the overflowing mail box
and do nothing despite having
an emergency contact,
not wanting to miss
the opening day of deer hunting.
Minnesota nice.

Through the long terrible hours
the cats have waited, creeping in confusion
around the body
their hunger now a panic
as the phone rings and rings
and no one answers.
Sirens suddenly assault the evening,
growing louder and louder
surrounding the house
until police rattle the door,
shattering the glass,
and splintering wood.

The cats flee to dark corners
behind the upright piano and the droopy
mattress lining under the bed
as heavy footsteps pound the stairs
and strange voices register dismay
at the spectacle slumped
on the couch, book in her lap.
The strangers move from room to room
looking for signs of violence,
checking the medications,
attributing all finally to natural causes.

The cats know none of this,
their lives changed forever
by a last breath, a last heartbeat,
a wave never to return.

They huddle still
long after the body has been removed,
the doors secured,
the footsteps have faded away
and food and water put down at last
leaving the house to settle.

Only when they hear their familiars outside
crossing the yard, rabbits in snow,
the moonlight catching their shadows,
and the hooves of deer snapping twigs,
do they creep bewildered to their bowls,
not knowing they are lost.

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About the Author

I have graduate degrees in Creative Writing and 20th Century Literature. My work has appeared in Solo Nova, Salt, Spillway, Askew, Blue Light Press, Orbis, The Denver Quarterly, the TOPANGA Messenger, The Canyon Chronicle, Words Out Loud(UK)and eMerge! Five of my poems appeared in the recent issue of Solo Voyage and I have been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize.

Elaine Alarcon
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