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After my brother died, his wife was sure he was living inside their cat, Rocky. He’s in there, she’d say, staring into those blank, yellow eyes. Isma’il? Isma’il? Can you hear me? She’d tell anyone who came by how the cat would slip into their bed, put a paw on her cheek and just look at her. Or, other times, crawl under the covers, turning his furred back to her chest. My brother had picked out the cat when it was just a kitten, brought it home for his kids. And there it was, still roaming the hallways he would never set foot in again. He’d miss driving them to school, making them pancakes, reading them to sleep at night. So even though he took himself out of their lives with a single bullet, aimed at his heart, I see now that if he could, he’d find a way back to those he loved -- not as a ghost, but to walk, again, among them, almost silently on his tender paws. Perhaps it was the least he could do, to pad up the stairs, only the heat of his small body to offer, his cool and steady eyes.
Copyright 2020 Danusha Laméris. First published in The Sun Magazine. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.
Danusha Laméris lives in Santa Cruz, California. The Moons of August, her first book, was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the 2013 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize. Her second book, Bonfire Opera, was published by University of Pittsburgh Press in spring 2020.