She had a tortoiseshell called Puddles
who wandered in one day and never left;
he watched us deal in words and cookies
across the kitchen table.
Her husband began to tremble when he walked,
and one night my father found them
huddled together like frightened children,
crying, “Old age is wretched,”
But I was away when my father found her,
cleaned the carpet, called her sister,
fed the cat and washed his hands
by the harsh blue light;
I wasn’t there, so all I remember
is the sun streaming over the kitchen table
into the corners of the breakfast nook,
while she told me the stories of rhythm and ryhme.