Friday, April 11, 2014

Quote of the Day

Die -- you can't do that to a cat.
Since what can a cat do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls?
Rub up against the furniture?
Nothing seems different here
but nothing is the same.
Nothing's been moved
but there's more space.
And at nighttime no lamps are lit.

Footsteps on the staircase,
but they're new ones.
The hand that puts fish on the saucer
has changed, too.

Something doesn't start
at its usual time.
Something doesn't happen
as it should.
Someone was always, always here,
then suddenly disappeared
and stubbornly stays disappeared.

Every closet's been examined.
Every shelf has been explored.
Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
A commandment was even broken:
papers scattered everywhere.
What remains to be done.
Just sleep and wait.

Just wait till he turns up,
just let him show his face.
Will he ever get a lesson
on what not to do to a cat.
Sidle toward him
as if unwilling
and ever so slow
on visibly offended paws,
and no leaps or squeals at least to start.

Cat in an Empty Apartment, by Wislawa Szymborska, translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.


Karen said...

Strangely evocative, and quite poignant.
Thank you.

Lady Anne said...

That moved me to tears.

When I was in the hospital a few years ago, my cat looked for me everywhere - in the closets, under the bed. She even got into the bed and crawled under the covers, poking her nose along The Squire's body, to see if I was hiding under him. She would spend the day staring at the door, *willing* me to come through it.

Yes, I understand that poem very well.

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear - that made me cry. Yes, how do you explain to a dumb animal that its human hasn't basely deserted it from lack of love!!