Xylophone

by Howie Good

What you’ve heard is true – cats go off by themselves to die; at least ours must’ve, slipping into the woods behind the house with the discreetness of a shy assassin. It was dark by the time we noticed that she was nowhere. Years ago, she’d wandered out of the same woods, like misfortune’s appointed agent, filthy as a wet mop head and missing an eye. Our children named her Xylophone, for her stripes, but then one by one left home before she did. Suffer, the world says, suffer in quiet. The heart is a museum of stained glass, with an old-fashioned wooden boardwalk and the mindless roaring of the sea just outside.

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Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of six poetry chapbooks, including the e-book Police and Questions (Right Hand Pointing, 2008), available free here.