Devotion At fourteen, you are hypertensive, partially blind in one eye, and suffer from dementia. Your feline fur is grey like the underside of a salmon fillet, and your body stretches like a sling shot, on my tapestry rug. I swoop down, burrow my face in the moist heat of your tummy, white as the cream from an éclair, kiss the dusting of moth wings between your eyes, trace the silver rings that spiral your lanky tail, while you expose a cage of tiger teeth with a huge nonchalant yawn; you are safe. Birth anointed you in anxiety. When we adopted you, fear was your perfume. You still startle, and flee on white gloved paws, like a snowshoe hare. Evenings, you are a curl waiting on my office chair. You chide me for the late hour, and escort me down the hall to bed. There, you stumble about like a clumsy toddler, mewl like a cantankerous drunk, climb me like a jungle gym, up over my head, down across my chest, unceremoniously step into my soft abdomen, and knead my doughy belly. Finally, you settle. My legs are pinned, and all night, we dance in an intricate choreography of slides and dips, because devotion asks how many more nights until the next life comes to teach us what we still haven’t gotten right? Praise for the once abandoned, who love anyway, who find gratitude in unremarkable days and nights shared, watching leaves fall, chasing shadows. We lay in darkness, etched by a winter moon. Marbles roll in your throat. I rub the paper membranes of your ear tips, frozen, like tiny mountain peaks. I stroke your silky fur, feel the bony vertebrae and spikes along your slender head and spine; how frail and delicate we are.
Katherine Szpekman’s poetry is forthcoming or has appeared in: Waking up the Earth: Connecticut Poets in a Time of Global Crisis, Aromatica Poetica, Red Eft Review, Sky Island Journal, Chestnut Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Hiram Poetry Review, Rockvale Review, Connecticut Literary Anthology 2020, and others. She lives in Collinsville, Connecticut with her family, both human and furry.