Who Gets to Live Here by William Doreski
Cats on the loose, sizzling,
hissing, rubbing each other raw.
You in the kitchen chatting
with a famous Chinese poet
whose work features on scrolls
and reproduction pottery
peddled in gift shops everywhere.
His purely suede expression
suggests he’s forming a lyric
while attending to every nuance
of your perfected malformation.
You ignore my cries for help,
my attempts to corral the cats
and prevent them from savaging
each other’s most comely smiles.
A tiger whacks a tortoise-shell
with a pawful of sheathed claws
while an orange tabby nibbles
a crouching calico’s neck.
With armsful of blustering felines
I hustle into the garage and catch
a stranger rummaging manuscript
I abandoned twenty years ago.
What forces have you compelled
to bear upon the simple life
I’ve cultivated to contain me?
After waving a rake at the burglar
and locking the tangle of cats
into the garage I’m free to shake
the visiting poet’s hand and learn
how little English he speaks,
how little Chinese I speak,
how little any of us understand
the cries and contortions of cats,
essential elements of landscapes
we aren’t allowed to inhabit.
William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall (Splash of Red, 2018).