On Stealing My Neighbor’s Calico

I want to steal my neighbor’s cat. She follows me home
each day, each footfall snapping up like a child’s rubber ball

across the pavement. She has no collar, no small bell.
Her left eye is green and cloudy like my eastern marshes.

I wonder what might happen if I closed the door behind us,
if she climbed onto my small couch, investigated my closets
like a teenager—

Where are your good shoes? Why don’t you have any good shoes?

I would need all the Zyrtec on the South Hill,
get a refill on my inhaler. And I could stop right now
with those thoughts of waking up and driving to Canada

just for the day. I want to be the kind of person
who takes care of someone

without needing something in return. This cat doesn’t care
who I am. She trusts me to touch her soft calico belly,

trusts me to walk away without her. Just this once
I want to understand that kind of love.

*From Grist, 2016 Floating Bridge Chapbook Award winner.

 Originally published in Baldhip.

Kate Peterson earned her MFA from Eastern Washington University, where she is now teaching composition as an adjunct. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming from Sugar House Review, Packingtown Review, Aethlon, Glassworks, and The Sierra Nevada Review, among others. Kate is originally from New Jersey but has made Spokane her home.
This is her first published collection. She can be reached at www.katelaurenpeterson.tumblr.com.


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