By Chrys Tobey
My old man cat is, unfortunately, getting old. Kidneys failing.
Asthma. Arthritis. A tongue that won’t go back inside his mouth.
Seizures. The last one made me think he was a goner. But then he blinked
and hobbled around me in circles. Pretty disoriented. My old man
cat has started eating books and this may be due to the fact
that I’ve had my old man cat for seventeen years
so maybe he’s tired of watching me read when I could be doing better
things— like waving his fake mouse around. Or napping.
I got my old man cat in my 20s, when he was not old,
and because my mind was not fully developed, I thought
I wouldn’t age and therefore, he would never die.
My forties seemed like an obscure foreign film
I’d pretend I’d watched when someone asked me at a party.
My old man cat yells at me. A lot. I think he may be upset
I’m not more motivated. Upset I didn’t turn him into an Instagram
star. He probably overheard my friend’s ten-year-old, Nico, say,
You could make so much money! We need to make T-shirts and memes
and calendars! Nico had big plans. You could be a millionaire! This probably
pissed off my old man cat, which is understandable— imagine
all the turkey treats I could buy him. Maybe even a deluxe
litter box that looks like some kind of palace that cleans itself.
My old man cat’s favorite time to yell at me is at night, particularly
when I’m falling asleep. At first, I thought he was senile, but lately
I’m starting to see he may have some points, such as I don’t know why
you got rid of your Spotify! Or, I miss that guy who would always feed
me chicken! However, I question whether this is dementia
since I still have Apple Music, but the other evening
I heard him yell, You’ve moved thirteen times in thirteen years!
What are you afraid of? Maybe I misheard him, I don’t know –
my old man cat is smart, yet I’m unsure if he is wise. But last night,
as I smooshed my forehead in my pillow and my eyes started
to close, he began eating my hair and I swear he whispered, Love yourself.
Chrys Tobey‘s poems have appeared in the minnesota review, Rattle, Ploughshares,The Cincinnati Review, and Verse Daily, among others. Her first book of poetry, A Woman is a Woman is a Woman is a Woman, was published in 2017 from Steel Toe Books. Chrys lives in Portland, Oregon.