She bent down to pick the cat up and tweaked her back again. Another reminder of age, or humanity, or carelessness. She’d never quite mastered the art of physicality, ever clumsy, always stumbling.
Bumbling through life.
Even so, her mind was always dancing, one minute tango and the next ballet, one day a waltz and at night, samba. But it all looked like shuffling to the world outside her body, and she heard the sky’s mocking whispers, even as she pretended ignorance.
Her mom had told her once she was a diamond in the rough, and she’d snorted at that one. She knew what rocks looked like, and what they felt like, too, hitting her body as she cowered in the schoolyard.
That’s the way she’d felt her whole life, and she laughed at the word as she stood at the counter, dishing cat food onto plates from gnarled fingers as she held herself steady on crooked hips. Her mind, flying free, knew it wasn’t true, but even so, her body went still for a moment, long enough to feel the cold seeping up through the floorboards, long enough to see her silhouette blocked out on the back wall, long enough to view the hole that bloomed in the center of her chest.
She talked to her shadow that morning. Sang to it, really. Songs about love and disappointment and remembering. She stood still as the sun shone through the window, through her body, through her music.
the grey cat melted
and stretched in light’s warm puddle
spreading claws and hours