A poem by Alison Luterman

When I sprawl in bed in the morning,

he walks on my chest with his springy black legs,
stepping precisely down the breastbone
and
         over
                          the belly,
as if I were a statue he had toppled himself,
as if he were a god, surveying the wreckage.

Then turns tail and paces
up my ribcage to the chin,
his sharp paws sinking in-
to soft flesh, each step a painful delight,
and pauses, inches from my nose
looking deeply into me with his green-yellow eyes.

This kind of love unmakes my mind;
unspoken, unspeakable, and never fully known.

He is shy, a hoarder of pea pods
and rubber bands, stubbornly loyal.
On a whim once, he leaped onto my back,
was lifted like a conqueror and borne aloft,
only to hide himself for hours afterwards
in a pile of laundry.

He cannot tell a blanketed toe
from a mouse or a sparrow,
but attacks all with the same ferocious zest---
reminding us the word for tiger
derives from the Persian, "arrow"---
as he leaps madly on a shaft of sun
piercing through the blinds.

Alison Luterman Books

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