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Silent Paws

By Gabriel Spera

I know how you feel—like someone rearranged
all the pictures on the wall, or slid the ring
from your finger. It’s awkward. Unsettling. Strange.
Just remember what I taught you, and everything

will be alright. You’ll stand with your habitual
optimism at the back door, calling my name.
I won’t come, of course, but that’ll make the whole ritual
seem normal, familiar, as ever all the same.

And in that moment, you’ll glance down, unsure whether
to feel relieved or sad to find no gift, small but
thoughtful, on the mat. And it will take forever
till you can open a can of anything and not

feel the press of my flanks, like a phantom limb,
against your shins. Until then, you’ll get no rest
listening for the catch and shred, at 2 a.m.,
of claws on the scratching post. When you do, at last,

dream again, you’ll see me in my favorite spot—
curled up on the couch I often let you share,
blissful in repose. Take this to heart: no matter what
you’re doing or not doing, no matter where

you’ve opted not to be, savor your small expanse
of sun before it melts away in its travels
across the rug. And if a ball of joy should dance
across your path—pounce, before it all unravels.

 

Watch “Silent Paws

Gabriel Spera has published two collections of poetry. His first, The Standing Wave, was published by Harper Collins (New York) as part of the 2002 National Poetry Series. The book also received the 2004 Literary Book Award for Poetry from PEN USA-West. His second, The Rigid Body, was awarded the 2011 Richard Snyder prize from Ashland Poetry Press. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of Los Angeles. He was also awarded the Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry from the Bellevue Literary Review. He lives in Los Angeles.