Second Cat
offered to a friend after her divorce

The first was a blur, brushing
peripherally past you and away.
Or thus you disremember.
This one will not be disremembered.
A host of clawed nuisance,
he tatters the ottoman, knocks
trinkets from their shelved
arrangements. Should you open
again your folded life? Mornings
at the doorstep, carcasses
slashed for your approval.
And though you spade them deep,
relinquish their splintered
bones to the dirt, to the maggots
and flies, this second cat  
who knows nothing of endings
exhumes it all, flesh and pelt.
Nothing, or everything
sacred to him. Now he sleeps, snagged
in dream. Count the breaths,
the lives yet left, each twitch
of his mouth still whiskered
with feathers:
See what I chased,
what wings I snapped. How high,
leaping, I almost flew.
Rebecca McClanahan’s most recent books are Deep Light: New and Selected
(Iris Press, 2007) and The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings (Univ. of
Georgia Press, 2002). A recipient of the Wood Prize from Poetry, a Pushcart
Prize in fiction, and fellowships from NY Foundation for the Arts and NC Arts
Council, she teaches in the MFA programs of Queens University and Rainier
Writers Workshop. Her newest nonfiction project, a multi-generational family
saga, is forthcoming from Indiana University Press in 2013.