like a house whose cats
have stopped their begging,
where mirrors stop talking,
the knives their singing,
after the snake
has pointed to the fruit.
I get up and boil tea.
The cats come to their bowls.
Chen Zao says, Talk of tomorrow
and rats smile.
Talk of yesterday brings sleep.
I am tired too, of thinking
about what comes before.
A man walks into a crowded room
and shouts, Fire.
For this he is arrested
unless the lobby burns.
I walk through my house shouting, Fire.
I shout, Fire, air, mutual funds.
Nothing dead is raised.
In Mattappan, they call this a sad story.
People gather on their porches and point
to the crazy man at the end of the block.
In my town, people pay millions
to enforce their isolation.
What glory to run naked from room to room
shouting at full voice.
The cats cannot participate,
grow frightened, take refuge
beneath the bed.
Nothing is more sad, more quiet
than a house whose cats are hiding.
Then the teapot shrills,
I pour myself a cup,
sit and wait,
watching the color deepen.