Boris the Ninety-Pound Cat
by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

Rochelle Jewel Shapiro is the author of Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), Kaylee's Ghost, an indie finalist, and What I Wish You'd Told Me (Shebooks, 2014). Her essays have appeared in NYT (Lives), and Newsweek. and more, her poems in magazines such as The Iowa Review, Peregrine, Amoskaag, Atlanta Review, and Harpur's Palette. She won the Brandon Memorial Literary Award from Negative Capability, and currently teaches writing at UCLA Extension.

My psyche is your scratching post.
Even when I'm not visiting Mae
in her studio apartment where she moved
after Irv died, I see you, Boris,
solace of her dotage,
declawed, spayed, fatted up,
stationary as a thickly furred doorstop.

You used to vault yourself
onto her untuned grand piano, slide
across the top on her silk piano scarf,
bite its fringe. With your powerful
hindquarters and leonine paws,
nothing was too high for you.
You'd climb the venetian blinds
of the tallest window, spring down,
crashing coffee table tchotchkes,
felling standing lamps.

When Mae went to the kitchen
to get tea and biscuits, you'd
high-jump from the dining room table
on your back legs to swat at the crystals
dangling from the chandelier.

Alone, I spirit you back
to the Siberian forest
where you can smell moss,
roll in pine needles, lap water
from streams, climb trees.
No more Kibbles for you.
You can hunt as you were meant to.
You can chew off the heads of frogs,
paw-bat chipmunks, tear at
the throats of starlings.

Boris, you cannot be blamed for your murders
any more than Mae for her loneliness.

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