Ceci N’est Pas Ma Chat

Lethe is the name of the brown cat
in the carrier on the floor across from me.
She’s not happy and she’s complaining loudly
to her owner. The woman is making shushing noises
and little clucks and murmuring “There, there”
and “I know, baby.”

Beside me a man, who could double for Santa, speaks
soothingly to a black and white cat with folded down ears.
He says she’s not used to other cats or to people
but she seems fond of him as she stretches out
one velvet paw to pat his snowy whiskers.

I look down at the cat in my carrier. She’s not complaining,
not talking, not even looking at me; we might be strangers
waiting at a bus stop. I feel I should explain to
someone she’s really my parents’ cat and that’s why
we lack chemistry. But there’s no time. The vet comes
to the door and calls us. I pick up the carrier and
walk into the exam room leaving the people behind
us to think whatever they will.

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