By Dorianne Laux
Midnight. The cats under the open window,
their guttural, territorial yowls.
Crouched in the neighbor's driveway with a broom,
I jab at them with the bristle end,
chasing their raised tails as they scramble
from bush to bush, intent on killing each other.
I shout and kick until they finally
give it up; one shimmies beneath the fence,
the other under a car. I stand in my underwear
in the trembling quiet, remembering my dream.
Something had been stolen from me, valueless
and irreplaceable. Grease and grass blades
were stuck to the bottoms of my feet.
I was shaking and sweating. I had wanted
to kill them. The moon was a white dinner plate
broken exactly in half. I saw myself as I was:
forty-one years old, standing on a slab
of cold concrete, a broom handle slipping
from my hands, my breasts bare, my hair
on end, afraid of what I might do next.
From: "What We Carry", page 11
I am this woman, have been this woman, will probably always be this woman. Even my children think me a crazy cat lady (one of them is the same, but she also has dogs, chickens, a mule, pigs, geese, etc.). We have 6 rescued cats, 3 boys and 3 girls: Gir, Garfield, Catfish and Sophie, Little Debbie and Tigger). They go outside in the daytime to climb trees, run, kill mice & snakes and play...and we bring them in every night because we live by the woods which are full of predators.
So right before dark, every night, I begin calling them in. It begins with "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty..." in a nice, normal tone of voice. Then I wait a few minutes. No cats come---ever. I get a little louder: "Here KITTY, KITTY, KITTY with my hands cupped to my mouth!" then I wait about 15 minutes. A couple of the cats come in, always girls. I imagine the other cats sitting together, licking their paws, grooming and saying, "Hells, bells, let's make her crazy and ignore her---again.")
My husband then says, (every night), "Marion, why do you have to be so loud...you know they'll eventually come to the door." I do my famous eye-roll, then go back outside to call louder. It's now a matter of principle. This time I use the names of whichever cat is missing (always Garfield-the-hunter, sometimes crazy-Gir). I'm sure our neighbors are thinking, oh, shit, there she goes with her batshit crazy cat-calling. I really don't care what the neighbors think...that's why we have a tall wooden fence around the yard: privacy. (Ha!!) Finally, after about an hour of calling, chasing them around the yard, throwing sticks under my truck, at times climbing a ladder to get one off the roof (always crazy-Gir), I get them all in the house. They find the softest spots and crash out for about an hour, then wake up and party until dawn and it starts all over...
That's a long story to say: that's why I adore this poem. I see myself in it, but clothed (most of the time).
"I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It's not. Mine had me trained in two days." ~Bill Dana
"A cat pours his body on the floor like water." ~William Lyon Phelps