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Dawn Potter: Sleeping with the Cat

His spine curved just enough
to squeeze between my knees
and he stayed there, for hours and hours,
like he was nailing me to the bed.

If I moved, bad things would happen so I let
cat-nightmare fill me with cramps and brown
auras, and, for some reason, I also seemed
to be a man in armor.

Meanwhile, the cat got a good night’s sleep,
and downstairs Tom snored to the soundtrack
of some New Wave French film, the sort
that looks like a really sexy cigarette ad,

and in retrospect, now that I’m awake and lucid,
I wonder what it is about sleep that is so alluring
and absurd. I mean, recently I dreamed
I met a professor of heckling who was also

flying dachshunds on a kite string.
My dreams are ridiculous, and I endure them
as my legs rot into numbness under the iron claws
of a cat who always gets his own way.

Yet, despite all, my bed is the most beautiful
square in the house—line-dried sheets, snowy
comforter, the window-blind clacking gently,
just like it might in a Virginia Woolf novel,

all of the imagined sweetness of childhood
distilling into the tap and swish of quiet wind,
the drowsy hum of tires on a wet street,
the murmur of the New Wave French people

falling in love or robbing a bank, and this cat,
the bossiest boyfriend I have ever entertained,
crammed between my knees, purring himself into glory.
A window-blind ticks in a midnight breeze.

The dreams rise and fall, dimly . . .
a barn full of Holsteins I’ve forgotten to feed, and now
I’m trying to drive my tiny car through a riverbed
full of stones, and even the fears and terrors dissolve

into a version of acceptance. This is how I will live out
half of the rest of my life—wrapped in air-scented cotton,
afflicted with a brain that cannot stop telling stories,
under the wind, the weight of stars, the faraway blink of morning.


Copyright 2023 Dawn Potter

Dawn Potter’s many books include Accidental Hymn (Deerbrook Editions, 2022). She directs the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching.

6 comments on “Dawn Potter: Sleeping with the Cat

  1. Dawn Potter
    January 18, 2023

    Thank you all so much! I’m really, really grateful!

    Like

  2. Rose Mary Boehm
    January 18, 2023

    Oh, Dawn Potter, your poem made my day!

    Like

  3. kim4true
    January 18, 2023

    I know the cramped legs routine well! And I feel so honored to have my fluffy yellow tyrant elect to sleep with me anyway. And your fanciful dreams are brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robbi Nester
    January 18, 2023

    Perfectly captures the cat/sleep equation, as well as the craving the sleep-deprived feel for the luxury of sleep.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sean Sexton
    January 18, 2023

    Superb! Wonderful poem I’d love to have written although I must say after a point I would have to stop suffering that cat. And yet—at the service of poetry, he’s worth his weight in meow mix!
    Thank goodness we have Poetry as redemption, and live in a world of sublime temporality. Tell Dawn Potter I love her.

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on January 18, 2023 by in Health and Nutrition, Most Popular, Poetry and tagged , , , , .

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