No one gets it–its slippery gift
for wriggling away, like the gaunt cat
we found in an alley and tried to stash
in Old Steve’s garage until one of us
could convince a mom to let her inside.
After a week of eating, the cat recalled
freedom and seemed to know it
better than we did, though we
were ten and fairly well fed,
running the streets in ragged shoes
and patched pants, freer than
we’d ever be again. Freedom flies
and truth ambles. We caught sight
of the gray blur on a garage roof
and you boosted me to the gutter which
somehow held while I swung up.
As she leapt for a branch, I snagged her–
the quickest and most painful thing
I’d done so far–and, bleeding, slid
toward the eave to pitch her to you,
holding a box. By morning she was gone
forever, though we looked longer
than we admitted, though I still look,
and you do, too, if you’re still
breathing air. Six decades on, there
aren’t many alleys left, but I peer
into those I pass and find weeds,
mostly and rubble. By now,
she’d be such an old cat.
Michael Lauchlan has contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Sugar House Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, and Lake Effect. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from WSU Press (2015).