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Cat sleeps on her head like a nerve-helmet. Several cataracts of blackness coming at once, torrents of rasp breaking her across a synapse gap. Hail pummeling the windows and the radio’s whisper. When anyone asks what color her eyes are, she shrugs and says hazel. Cat would run away every night, through climates of frontier and incompletion. There are cats that walk all night not going anywhere. That must have been the very last night. She can walk back and forth like this for so long, in thought, in the hallway. If she closed her eyes, she could see more light than was out there. Cat saw and didn’t see what she passed: dank dripping moss, spongy leaf-rot, and abandoned thickets. Cat could go anywhere, for no one saw in the dark. Its arrowlike stillness, its tangled smell of dead lilac. Each step is into a bottomless pit, each step wakes a sleeping snake, each step collects burrs and poison. If she did not walk away early enough. It is suddenly too late; she can no longer walk away. Cat saw and she didn’t see her own body circling. In what direction do the lost veer? It is suddenly clear that she can do what she likes, but she can no longer walk away from wanting to be found. Cat buries the smell of her wine in the evening, the smell of her coffee in the morning. She checks the clock several times in the same minute, then falls into a dream of her daughter scratching the door. It is not light that is failing, that fails, it’s not light nor dark that dies. She grooms in that pigment, that drug.
Christine Hume is the author of The Saturation Project (Solid Objects, 2019), a lyric memoir in the form of three interlinked essays, as well as three books of poetry and many chapbooks, most recently a collaboration with Jeff Clark, Question Like a Face (Image Text Ithaca), a Brooklyn Rail Best Nonfiction Book of 2017, and Red: A Different Shade for Each Person Reading the Story (PANK Books, 2020). She is a Professor of English at Eastern Michigan University.
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