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.