A Story About Poems
“If I speak for the dead . . . I must write the same poem over and over . . . .”
— Illya Kaminsky, poet
A Possibly True Story
Once there was a woman speaking poems, whispering really, as she wrote them, only her cats in that bookish room. Two cats. They licked in her words, licked in her solitary voice, licked in the rhythmic rise and fall and pausing, licked in subtle quivers in her breathing, as they licked in soft slivers of their own fur. Soon each cat became a poem. They were good poems, quiet and clean, their meaning a pulse, a muffled rumbling at her touch, as if buried in such dazzling pelts, some animal motor churned, perpetually out of reach. For long moments, the woman held the cats, stroked them, sometimes their claws kneading into her belly, wounding and comforting. She loved the mystery of them, the drift and sway of their tails, sensuous, through air, or gone limp, curled into question marks asleep in her lap. No matter how many poems she spoke, whispered usually, there were only those two cats in the room, only two poems ever written, love she thought and death, oh they were beautiful, wild things, leaping about, oblivious to names.