We want to believe in the great paradox – that Schrödinger was right about the cat, dead and
alive at the same time. And I can stay in bed with a grief hangover; also on time for class.
This morning foiled again, strong-armed to my bed by the same anemic dream. I sleep in,
miss the bus. Descend the stairs. He’s waiting in the basement. I didn’t die, he says, his grin
a set of ballroom doors thrown wide open. The same sharp incisors, long and white. My fangs,
he liked to tell me, like a cat’s. The room is dark as an old shanty. The air crackles. I catch him
before he scats. This is real, isn’t it? I ask and the petals unfold, a moment before clinched
tight in my chest. His cheek cool. The texture of an old oil painting, the surface cracked.
Funeral home make up is gross, his eyes dim with remembering. I nod, line my fingers up on
the logo of his favourite shirt, a handprint on the chest. I wait. Hope. No heartbeat when I press.
His eyes soften to a black sheen like kitten fur. Before he can disappear I say it. He doesn’t blink or move. I know all about that now, he says, but it’s too late for me. Let’s walk around
the school. The corridor narrows like cartoon train tracks to a tiny door. I turn to joke about
the wrong end of the telescope but he’s nowhere. Gone. I look down at my heavy feet clanging
up a metal stairwell to a landing. Recognize the stockroom at work when I reach the top. He
comes into focus in the dark, sitting on an oversized bag of children’s clothes. It’s so weird –
he tilts his head and squints, a teasing glint in his eye – that you’re everywhere I go. That look
so familiar, meant to give away the trick. It’s so weird, I say. I finally know. You loved me/
loved me not. It wasn’t that you didn’t want to be my boyfriend. You just didn’t want me to be
your girlfriend. He shakes his head, struck. That’s not it. You didn’t understand me. One day
you will. Years later I’ll set aside sorrow. Remember the way we bantered. The non sequitirs.
Pysch outs and reversals. The live wire that always ran underground. The golden skein of yarn
we were handed was too small – never enough time. But the way we spent it was the way he wanted it to be. His secret feline conspiracy.
* This poem was originally published in Event 45/3