Every morning, heavy with sleep,
he is immovable,
a permanent collection of arms, legs,
back, hairs, burning fingers.
She feels his skin with her fingertips,
She watches his chest rise and fall, unable to turn away
in case it should depend on her watching.
But leaning over his mouth, she knows
his tongue is thick with that dying smell,
the first taste of that old dark thing.
TO UNCLE SNACK
He was just lighter one day, less there:
damp, with the moldy-wet smell of leaves;
like old furniture sun-fading,
his coat floats dust.
Cracked-voice complaints expose broken teeth like ruins.
And he who had lived outside of age
now stands blinking in a familiar room,
his cloudy eyes squinting into simple memory.
And the time he'd never felt
now hangs weights from his feet.
"To Uncle Snack" is for a family cat, nearly two decades old. As a pouting fifth grader, I once stormed into our narrow half-bathroom with Uncle Snack, slammed and locked the flimsy plywood door, and declared that the cat was the only one who understood me. This poem was my attempt to understand him.