These are the first days of spring. The breeze at dawn
pumps petrichor to the tune of birds chirping relentless cheer;
that gap between pounding heart and sluggish mind. A woman
and cat lie in bed, waiting for the day to begin.
The cat says let’s eat breakfast then come back to bed,
snuggle up together and go back to sleep again, full-bellied.
That is how cats process a change of seasons.
Woman and cat get up and head for the kitchen.
The cat wants a special treat this morning,
but considering the end of winter, the woman
can’t help but think about her panniculus,
long swaddled like a beloved infant
too soon exposed and forced to learn to walk
and talk, as befitting spring.
The cat says as long as we can jump and run, our bits
are fine to swing as much as they need to for balance.
Let’s get us up somewhere high and look on down
at everything like the queens we are. But the woman
is humbled by taxes due before she knows it, the torture
of details followed by the imagination of judgment
followed by the pain of payment: insult compounding injury.
The cat says there’s always catnip and laser pointers and Netflix.
And the woman thinks about the three things she always thinks
about: clothes degrading into rags, indelible and undesirable
memories, errors of omission and commission. Outside,
day is brightening like an interrogation during a strip search.
The cat says brunch is a civilized ritual that will put us right.
But the woman looks at her bookcases: so many words;
so few of them hers. She remembers how, as a girl,
she set out to read the whole encyclopedia, believing
there was a secret message therein, meant for her alone.
The cat says maybe we can just drink some water.
So they drink some water which is, after all, one of the few
things they need, and of the many of which they are made.
After Stephen Dobyns
Julie Benesh is author of the chapbook About Time and the forthcoming full-length poetry collection Sensitive Dependence and has published work in Tin House, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Another Chicago Magazine, JMWW, Maudlin House, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program and recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Grant. Read more at juliebenesh.com.