Cat Revelation

Issue EightIssue Eight PoetryPoetry

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By Drucilla Wall


I know a thing or two about cats,

and that scrawny black skeleton

with dirty socks, curled in an empty

flower pot on the front porch

was one fine haven for bugs

and stink. Ball of running sores,

why cling to our garden

for two weeks under threat

of animal control, then vanish?


Three days into my blissful relief

and new potted geranium,

the neighbor’s daughter,

best friend of our own,

knocked at the door, cradling

that sack of cat piss: child weeping,

cat dripping and reeking of kerosene.


“My mom’s at work and my dad

is in the shower, and I knew you

could help,” and I thought,

oh, you lucky man in the shower;

me with a house full of children

and a known oversized bathtub

at the top of the stairs.

I have resisted moments of truth–

sledding on thinly iced ponds;

candy from strangers; St. Patrick’s day

in sports bars—and I know how

to say no to destiny, but I said,

“Give me the cat and we’ll wash it.”


Kneeling by the tub,

where a tall woman can relax

in comfort, I reddened my hands

through twenty sloshing shampoos,

the last six with laundry detergent.

Five visiting children and two of my own

leaned over me, shouting advice,

falling onto my aching shoulders,

or into the tub. Fumes watered my eyes,

as I kneaded that paltry body

that never mewed, scrambled,

scratched, nor bit, but stood

in the frothing waves and took

whatever I sent her way—head above

water, eyes heavenward.


There is nothing more certain:

no one can wash a cat twenty times

in front of children, dry it, and watch

it eat a can of tuna intended for dinner

under a patch of late sun angling

through the kitchen door, reflecting

gold in the cat’s left eye,

without something turning over

in the soul, without the cat

revealing its true name.


(Published in The Geese at the Gates. By Drucilla Wall. Salmon Poetry 2011: