“Nocturne with Cat and Spider” by Douglas Woody Woodsum

Douglas Woody Woodsum


When you live alone, there’s no one to holler
(no mother or father, no uncle or aunt)
none to mind if you wander away from the dishes
away from the oil bill and unanswered mail
and stand in the light of the door to the icebox
and take the last can of beer. No one will holler
(no sister or brother, no nephew or niece)
when you go outside on the porch after dark
and leave the screen door ajar, so the flies of late April
find the crumbs on the table or die in the coffee cup
left there since noon. No one will holler,
“It’s snowing up north; you should wear your slippers
and your old wool cap, or this time you’ll catch it,
and then you’ll be sorry,” when you live alone.
When you’re still on the porch and it’s well after midnight,
your cigarette lighter is the only sound,
till you hear a cat yowling, and you hope it is mating,
when you live alone. No half-grown son or grown-up
daughter, no spinster cousin or husband or wife
will say, “That stuff will kill ya,” then turn
and walk away. No one will sit beside you
and watch the slow spider spin silk from the railing
that surrounds the porch. And no one else will ponder
why it spins in the evening when the last threat of frost
makes your breath look like smoke. No one will whisper,
(no lover who wonders why you aren’t in bed)
“It’s nice out here; do you mind if I join you?
Or would you rather be left alone?”

from Rattle 29, Summer 2008

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