Stevieslaw: Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever

Smokey, that old gray cat
with the disposition
of my grandma Vlad,
is buried in the backyard
in an old shoe box
meant for high tops.
She lived to seventeen—
a grand old age for cats,
and by the time she passed,
had bitten every man, woman and child
in a four block radius
and driven to extinction
the rodents and the songbirds.

Some of us are not built for life indoors.
For those trekkers on the Appalachian Trail
or up in the mountains of Kathmandu
a day inside is like an itch
they cannot scratch.
Smokey was an outdoor cat
kept in—she leapt once
from a second story window,
rather than face a carpeted hour
by the fire.
She had no fear of winter,
and loved to watch it snow.

Today, as I surveyed
the year’s first snow,
I remembered her ritual.
She’d sit in the front window
and stare as flakes
coated the grass and walk,
and then, as if driven
by a cattish brilliance,
she’d go and check the back.

Here, in the center
of Central Pennsylvania,
our world like hers
constricts in winter.
The front and the back
of our old house inch together—
surreptitiously,
in the gray gloom of our
foreshortened days,
until our fevered eyes
would have us scream—
“Let me out, let me out,”
to run free in the falling snow.

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