Apropos of very little,
Prompted by the need for a historical, declarative, emergency statement in the event of my capture,
My mind builds a vignette
Molly and Thomas.
A grey tabby lady with a calm demeanor and a thin tail,
A grey tabby boy with a white chest and long whiskers.
Sitting next to me on an ugly brown couch, Dad’s favorite.
We’re watching “A League of their Own.”
I get so frustrated at the end I slapped my hand down and sent Molly skittering.
My mother scolds me for my temper.
I wonder – will this mise en scène be so clear when the camouflaged men stand over me and ask me authentication questions? “What were the names of your cats in 1990?”
Will I remember that raggedy brown couch?
Will I feel that tuft of white fur?
Or will I simply stutter out in fear their names like anchor points
Holding my mind down in chaos?
The crystalline historical certainty of Molly and Thomas,
Reaching through time to verify me as their human.
Youth takes the higher registry
In cackles, screams, and laughter
Meant to call down parents
And assert strong needs and wants
Because there is no other thing
Than the immediate, the now.
There is no more authentic representation of grief
Than a child who does not realize
Tomorrow is tangible.
In youth I seem to recall
Being able to sing well,
Well enough that even adults would listen.
I like to think it stemmed from my ability
To howl with indignation as a toddler,
Though never with the kind of sheer mad fury as my sister,
Who slipped and ran headlong into a corner,
And became possessed by the furies
At the level of her discomfort.
I can still see her raging eyes,
The little bleeding bruise in her forehead.
In time, the high-pitched sounds fade
As feet become steadier
And minds more sure of themselves.
I would not want to go back to the mad sounds of childhood.
I would, however, happily take back my
Ability to howl out my feelings.
I cannot imagine new tenants walking backwards up the stairs,
Throwing down a little salt because they read it in a book.
They must not check over their shoulders,
Nor hunch their shoulders up around their necks for protection.
Poor dark things, menacing an empty room,
I worry for you.
Who feeds you now?
Do you skitter amid the boxes, looking for me and my vivid imagination?
Do you still dance as I imagined?
Not that I could bear to witness.
I could not stand the darkness.
Perhaps now…but would you want me now, full of worldly fears?
Or would I taste too leathery, to tough even for your needle teeth?
Check on them, if you would.
Under the stairs, behind the boxes of forgotten books, or in shadows of the old art projects.
Throw down a little salt.
For my lonely living shadows.
Returning to work I pass a house.
Repainted four times, that house.
I remember when it was white.
What I really remember is the moon –
A sort of full moon
And a few dwindling stars in a sky full of slate.
The sun was not up, but we were.
I felt the heater’s hot air on my tiny arms
And I looked up at the cold moon.
I could not tell you the name
Of the family that watched me those early mornings
When Mom had to go to Chicago to teach,
When I had school,
When Dad was off flying helicopters in a war.
But I remember their maple wood table, deep amber wood,
I remember chocolate chip pancakes.
Dry pancakes, moist chips,
And a sort of full moon.