Entrechat by Maryann Corbett (with editor’s note correction)

Entrechat
probably from the Italian, intrecciata, intertwined

April again. The old seductions of April.
Cat in the kitchen, loitering with intent,
swivel-eared, listening to the menu
as birds at the feeder intone the daily specials.
She’s slinking, wide-eyed, close to the closing door—

O indoor innocent, haven’t we played this scene?
All impulse, you bolt through the opening’s last inches.
I, Keystone Cop, give chase, flailing and staggering
through raspberry canes. Then, standoff under the porch:
stooped, on my knees with supplication and tuna
for an hour. At last my desperate lunge, and you
panicked, darting beyond my asthmatic powers.

And then the hours, wondering if this is it.
If this is the frayed end of an obligation
I never chose, the long denouement
of a ten-year-old’s desire, her vow of fidelity
to food, water, and litter box forgotten
a dozen years, a handful of lives ago.

The end of lapfuls of motorized condescension,
of rub-around entanglements on the stairs,
of black and chic reduced to snag and fuzz,
demands, imperious, piercing the depths of sleep,
dust, dander, hairballs, puke, and allergies.
Dare I imagine? Then the night of waiting.

And morning, and the whine outside the door,
and the odd, old, twisted leap of the heart.

by Maryann Corbett, first published in The Raintown Review, from Breath Control.

Maryann on Facebook

Editor’s Note: Many apologies—for some reason, the note I wrote for this poem didn’t properly save (human error perhaps? internet demon?). Here is the correct note: Every cat owner knows the frustration of discovering that the creature believes it owns you. Tuna is only partially useful, and the heart is a lost cause. This poem’s delightful narrative teaches us these things we’ve forgotten.

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