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Paul Lisicky

Mr. Cat

Would it ever occur to you to drive the wrong way into a traffic circle?

Fifteen cents for the winning answer.

Honestly, I believed my father when he said he’d been lost in thought, and had forgotten too late that one went right instead of left.  Never mind that he’d been driving this circle for 19 of his 36 years.   Never mind the oncoming streams of jeeps, boat trailers, and beach buggies.  Am I asking for too much when I propose he was giving us the bones of something we could give flesh to in another life?   Life after life—and, oh, the grand dinners beside the littered shore!  And oh, the trips given up on two miles before the tip of the continent!  Who could ever say what childhood was from here, what it felt like to be caught up inside the mouth of it? 

Outside on the woodpile, a cat looks satisfied and suspicious.  From his mouth,  the wiry tail switches left, right, left, right, and relaxes.  The cat blinks, but I know what that mouse is thinking: it isn’t so bad in here.  Maybe I could put up drapes, hang up calendars, find me a pole lamp.  And hobbies! 

And he’s too caught up in his glee to see the muscles already working in that extraordinary throat.

Paul Lisicky is the author of Lawnboy and Famous Builder, both published by Graywolf Press. His work has appeared in Story Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, Five Points, Brevity, Subtropics, and elsewhere.  He teaches at NYU and in the low residency MFA Program at Fairfield University.  A novel and a collection of  short prose pieces are forthcoming.

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