Lyn Lifshin

It Was Shadows in Dreams, She Said, Worse than Claws

like standing before a class
naked, unprepared. It was
like getting the book for
her mother autographed
then having her die before
this birthday gift. She took
care of the apartment after
she died. There was a cat,
something about that. The
claws maybe. Taking care
of things. It happened, the
way in a dash of funerals
or deaths there were boxes
to pack. She seemed like a
woman who never wanted a
cat. It was her friend's apart
ment after the boyfriend
whose cat it was od'd on
heroin. A mild cat, easier to
dispose of than the dead
lover and so trusting she
vowed to pick the cat back
up from the SPCA in the
72 hours before they gas it.
Then in the hot Harlem July,
after wine and a flat, she
drives away, still wakes up
20 years later drenched in
sweat, shaking that there was
something she forgot to do.


The 2River View, 4_1 (Fall 1999)