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So It Went

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An aged version
of my grandmother sat waiting
for my sister and me on the stoop
in front of the place you probably
didn’t call home.

I knew you were in there,
upstairs perhaps,
your body now bloated from
the pills that dissolved inside of you,
to stop those voices,
to make you safe.

The rest of them called you
an animal,
said you needed a leash,
a muzzle.

You hadn’t even met
Your newborn niece,
who had since turned two.

It’d been seven years for us—
I couldn’t even remember your voice,
which Grandma said was sweet,
that you were so sweet.

We were led upstairs,
the light dim and yellow,
led to where it smelled of
cedar chips and cigarettes.

Grandma loved paisley—
It plastered the walls and their cracks.
You looked strange against it,

Sitting upright on your burgundy bed,
mumbling a spoon-fed hello,
opening your arms, experiencing
human embrace for the first time
in years.

Your eyes were empty
as you spoke to us—
“Call him Uncle Hardy,”
Grandma said.

The conversation became
background noise as I watched
Grandma’s cat weave between
the legs of
the stools,
the chairs,
mine,
yours.

And your eyes awoke,
You reached down a gentle hand
and offered your callused finger,

which was accepted by the cat,
as you scooped her up and
placed her in your lap,
your palm traveling from front to back,
her quiet purr speaking for you.

An animal and its human—
If only the rest of them
could have seen you.

But, as always with cats, there was
something else. A shadow?
I don’t know.

She sprang from your lap,
rounded a corner, just like that.
Your hand was still hovering,
ready to stroke.

“Now wasn’t that just sweet?
He is just too sweet!”

And all was as it was before,
It will always be as it was before.



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