Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cats fur to make kitten britches

The sliding pocket door of the forbidden closet across from the bedroom
was my father's childhood lullaby.
The brown paper bag crackling behind closed doors
was his rooster in the morning.
And he and his sister asked their father what was in the extra grocery sack, but it was always
cat's fur to make kitten britches.

The jaundiced halo that ringed his Mama's head,
the extra naps, the untouched plates of food, the decaying breath:
It was all woven into rounds of circadian melodies,
like the songs she taught at the elementary school.
And if anyone showed concern about her health, they were told it was just
cat's fur to make kitten britches.

Until one day, when his sister came home from work
and there was nothing but those plates on the table,
fork and knife still stuck in the mashed potatoes, no car in the garage.
So she rushed to the hospital,
but their Mama never came home to wash those dishes.
And maybe the doctors could've caught the cirrhosis earlier, but it had simply been
cat's fur to make kitten britches.

And they ask me now why I never throw back the vodka or shotgun a beer
But in my family, there were too many secrets-
puzzle pieces that we're still gathering in the burial shroud,
the way normal children tuck wildflowers in their skirts.
And we track down whatever clues we can find,
the way normal children chase butterflies in the field.
Because we feel entitled to our own family history- that it should not just be
cat's fur to make kitten britches.

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