I squint like a mouse
When I am the twitching tail of the cat set to hunt it.
I gaze at my life with a pauper’s hunger
While I live as a queen within it.
I have light, food, cash tucked in a blue sock
While I rattle the pig-bank to gauge my wealth.
This sums up what it is to be human
To live duality, even breathing in & out.
I cannot claim silence while music leaps from my pen
I cannot fear the words will disappear as they burble over the cookpot.
There are horns from afar summoning me to war
Yet this has been a hard-fought peace to choose.
Let the winds of change breeze my bird’s nest hair
For all I have not done, more rises to accomplish.
As every day leads to every night
I gather up my life & wander on.
The owl wakes me again this darkling morning. She must have found my window alluring, yet there are no trees behind me at all. She sits, perhaps, on the crest of the warehouse roof, or upon a rung of the antenna tower. Her call is soft but urgent.
I protest: it’s too early! But I shift in my narrow bed & stretch my toes out straight. Would I climb with them to her perch if I could?
She has been silent up till now. She has eaten the mice in the storage yard; whence her eye fixed on my window to whoo-whoo to. She is calm, insistent, steady in her calls for me to waken.
But what will I do with such a cold morning? Too dark it is for even a streamer of dawn bringing light. I want to keep my eyes closed, listening. I cannot regather the shreds of sleep for wishing a dream. I rise & tuck my chill into a shawl.
I pad downstairs to a silent kitchen, flick on a nightlight. I pull everything out of the cabinets & begin to rearrange the contents by its sparse illumination. First, all the sauces are put together, the tuna stacked up. I take inventory to attend to restocking later: two cans of mismatched beans, a package of stiff spaghetti. I seek a pen & pad to make a list.
Dropping the emptied, crackling bags into the trash, I return to the counter to use up the last of my empty honey jars, a medium for the Farro, a small for the Panko, a large for the unsalted pistachios (how can everything end in an “o” this morning?)
I open boxes of teabags to place these into the big jug on the lazy susan. I pull out the frozen chicken to have it defrost by Sunday dinner.
I wet the sponge & blot the spills of grain. The coffee is ready now, its aromatic heat a blessing to a half-waked brain.
Last night I washed my laundry late. Returning upstairs, I fold & sort & in the sleepy darkness, put away the clothes. The dreams of my neighbors brush up against my silent walls. I feel their steady breaths over my feet, along the floor.
My house is tidy, tucked up & softly gleaming in the streetlamp’s outside glow. The owl has gone quiet, has her morning winged away?
I’ve made the bed but eye it in longing. As a meal unfinished, that last dream awaits.