Ghost Cat

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Ghost Cat

Margaret Atwood

Cats suffer from dementia too. Did you know that?

Ours did. Not the black one, smart enough

To be neurotic and evade the vet.

The other one, the furrier’s muff, the piece of fluff.

She’d writhe around on the sidewalk

For chance pedestrians, whisker

their trousers, though not when she started losing

what might have been her mind. She’d prowl the night

kitchen, taking a bite

from a tomato here, a ripe peach there,

a crumpet, a softening pear.

Is this what I’m supposed to eat?

Guess not. But what? But where?

Then up the stairs she’d come, moth–footed,

owl-eyed, wailing

like a tiny, hairy steam train: Ar-woo! Ar-woo!

So witless and erased. O, who?

Clawing at the bedroom door

shut tight against her. Let me in,

Enclose me, tell me who I was.

No good. No purring. No contentment. Out

into the darkened cave of the dining room,

then in, then out, forlorn.

And when I go that way, grow fur, start howling,

scratch at your airwaves,

no matter who I claim I am

or how I love you,

turn the key. Bar the window.