Order of Cats – Laura Wiseman

Even though the cats don’t live here anymore, I hear them, I say
to The Cat, meaning I speak to the air, the corners of the room,
the blank screen of the laptop computer. When I stand at the
bathroom mirror brushing my teeth, cats open closet doors,
letting them clatter and bang. When I do the dishes, cats trot
hallway, leap onto counters, chase objects across the carpet. In
our bedroom, I hear creaks and think cats on the futon, cats
finding purchase against your warm thighs, cats nesting at the
foot, watching the door like bodyguards of fur. Everywhere I
look, cats. I see the cupboards and think, Do they need a treat? I
see clothes on the floor and think, Pick those up, or the cats,
knowing they punish by mess. At the store, I see catnip and
think, I should buy some. We’re out. At work, I decide to take
only canines from now on, cringing when loyal clients still
bring in their geckos, tangs, and cats. I hunker down in my
office, wait for the bell’s ding to signal their departure. Cats are
stuck in my ears. Cats clog the passages of my brains. Cats float
through my vision. At night, black cats cross my path. The Cat
might say I’m mourning cats or maybe the cats are mourning
me—meaning haunted. I’m not haunted. You tell me the mind
has a way of ordering the world and ours had been ordered by
cats. You say, Let’s get an allergen-free dog. I squeeze your hand
and say, Okay. People like dogs.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of over twenty books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press). Her recent books are Drink (BlazeVOX Books), Wake (Aldrich Press), Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink), and The Bottle Opener (Red Dashboard). Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, Ploughshares, and Calyx. She teaches in the Writing in the Schools Program and women’s and gender studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her collaborative book Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles) with artist Sally Brown Deskins, is an Honor Book for the 2015 Nebraska Book Award.

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