Calvin Claimed God’s Grace Was Irresistible,
and if among the Chosen we’d devote ourselves to good works,
to piousness—that’s how we’d know. And I guess he thought
we’d recognize love’s opposite, the grace withheld. Like Puritan
Jonathan Woodman who encountered in the dark a white thing
like a cat which did play about my feet. Winter, and the meager
crop had failed again. He kicked the cat against a fence, heard
the demon scream.
Now science says that violent human outbursts may be traced
to living with a cat. A devilish cat parasite migrates to our brains,
inflames them . . . But what of that lover, the one who kept no cats.
As a boy he had two gerbils. He told me once how, blind with rage,
he’d had to hang the female after she killed her mate. Justice,
he called it. What would science say?
These days I wish I’d been less reckless, paid attention, not spent
myself like small change tossed at a carnival game. You see where
this is going. Why not blame my cat, its grim biotic community, its
ticks and fleas. And their biotic communities, hungry, always with us—
what Calvin, reborn as scientist, might realize as fate’s messengers,
the least of these. What if he always had it sort of right?
Juditha Dowd’s poetry has appeared in The Florida Review, Spillway, Poetry Daily, Kestrel, Cider Press Review and elsewhere. She reads with Cool Women, an ensemble performing poetry in the NY-Philadelphia metro area and on the west coast. Her full-length collection, Mango in Winter was released by Grayson Books, following two chapbooks from Finishing Line Press and a third from Casa de Cinco Hermanas.