Devotion – a poem by Katherine Szpekman

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 CrisisAromatica Poetica, Red Eft ReviewSky 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.  

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