Westbound: Little Cat Feet
A universe of near-unendurable suffering, in which our fate
is to endure pain rejoicingly in order to receive more pain.
The man in the light rail car is bleeding from the chin.
By now itís just an ooze, but his face and shirt are stained.
There is something--what?--peculiar about his cheerfulness,
an electrical storm rolling over the prairie of his hippocampus.
What do you do for a living, he asks, and, told, asks it again.
Iím bloody, he says. Bicycle. And he points where it hangs
From a rack. Itís mine. Iím restoring it. What do you do for a living?
I like poems. This oneís my favorite: The cat comes in
On little cat feet. You know it? The cat comes in. The bicycle
hangs perfect on the rack, dusty, but well oiled and functional.
Restoration? The arc of our lives carries us forward, its pace
controlled by an invisible metronome. He says that boys
Laughed at him when he fell. I said Fuck You. What do you do
for a living? His hands worry the thickening blood
On his neck. I like that poem too, I say, but itís fog: the fog comes in
on little cat feet. He frowns, thinking. Yes, he says, the cat
Comes in on little cat feet, and he slouches his shoulders, arms out,
creeping in the air. See? It makes an image in my mind.
When the prophet Elijah entered Bethel, the little children
mocked his baldness, and, the Bible tells us, he turned back,
And looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord.
And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tore
Forty and two children of them. His bloodied hands shake.
We are going somewhere. It makes an image in my mind.
- T.R. Hummer (from diode poetry journal)