By Andrew Cox

Featured Art: Summer: Cat on a Balustrade by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, 1909

–For Jerry Lee (1934-2016)

There are bobcats in the neighborhood
Said the woman in the decked-out SUV
Do you have a whistle
As I walked off my grief in Texas
Where I came to see my mother die
And when I saw the bobcat
Come from the drainage system
And stare at me with black pupils
Drilling into those yellow eyes
I knew it wanted me to sit down and listen
Love your mother the bobcat asked
Not enough I said
I could have visited more
It said man hands on misery to man
One of your kind wrote that I think
Yes I said the poem is never enough
And neither are the sentences it hissed
They fail in situations like this
Yes I said punctuation doesn’t help
Nothing helps
Remember the bobcat said
You are no longer a son
You had one shot and the pistol is empty
I understand I said though I did not want to
I have two hearts it said
The one they will find when they cut me open
And the one I use to live forever
Think about that
Think about that face those hands her eyes
And it disappeared down the slit
Now I knew where my mother was
In the bobcat’s second heart
The one it uses when it growls into the night
And puts everything in its place
That face those hands her eyes
On the hunt until dawn
Only ready to sleep
When the rest of us are ready to wake

Andrew Cox is the author of The Equation That Explains Everything; the chapbook, Fortune Cookies; and the hypertext chapbook, Company X. He edits UCity Review.

Originally appeared in NOR 20.

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