Housebound Cat

I read a short story

by Lorrie Moore about

loving a man who always

insists on letting your cat outside.


It reminded me of you.

You insisted on doing the same;

insisting I was silly for thinking

he would get run over,

when cats get run over all of the time.


Sure, cat deaths aren’t reported

in the news, but neither

are the civilian deaths

caused by airstrikes of those

‘trying to help’.

Of course, a cat and a child

are not the same thing.

They don’t mean the same.

Cats die young in human years

but don’t we all

in some way?


What I’m trying to say is,

this story, it made me

realise the housebound cat

was a metaphor

for the man she loved.


And it reminded me of you.


You could never decide

if freedom tasted like death

or life. So you sat by windows

and stood in doorways,

always with a look of disappointment

furrowed in your brow.

You disliked the way I held

you yet never wandered far;

bound between the four walls

our adolescent love built

and soured in; a place

where every toy is frayed,

chewed and no longer smells

the same.


You’ll be happy to know

once you’d left, I let the cat outside.

I even close the door behind him.


Each time I hear his meow

of return, I smile.

Because he returns, four legged

and mine and reminds me

that you never will.

For which I’m glad because

you weren’t the only housebound cat.

It was all of us.

Me and You.

We were trapped,

bound in shackles made

by fourteen year old hands;

locked by a forever

we were foolish to trust.


I smile, because he returns

and you never will.



© Kristiana Reed 2019





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