Two Poems by Diane Elayne Dees

The Last Cat

The last cat left this world today;
his tender Siamese heart gave out,
his blue eyes shut one final time,
just months after his brother died.

His tender Siamese heart gave out;
he really hadn’t been the same
the months after his brother died.
We knew the end had finally come.

I really haven’t been the same
since both of them moved out the day
we knew the end had finally come.
A marriage ends, cats are divided—

both of them moved out that day
while the sisters stayed and lived with me.
A marriage ends, cats are divided—
and things would never be the same.

The sisters stayed. They lived with me,
we learned to master new routines.
Though things would never be the same,
we made a peaceful, cozy home.

I learned to master a new routine
when cancer came for both of them.
It was still a peaceful, cozy home,
but they were always symbiotic—

so when cancer came for both of them,
they died, as they had lived—together.
They were always symbiotic,
but I had to manage twice the grief.

The brothers died—almost together;
those blue eyes shut one final time.
And I gave up on the math of grieving
when the last cat left this world today.


Free-Fall

Lying still on my mat,
I hear the soothing voice
of my yoga teacher,
telling me that there’s nothing
I have to hold, nothing
I have to carry. For a moment,
I feel as though my body
has released a heavy load—
that some mysterious force
has burned through a cord
that I didn’t realize was wrapped
around me. The cord snaps,
and suitcases filled with memories,
worries, regrets, obsessions—
my impressive collection
of cerebral junk—slide onto the floor.

Yet a moment later, I’m thinking
about what just happened,
wondering if it’s a delusion—
filling another suitcase with junk.
I am attached to the junk.
Like Willy Loman, hunched
over and defeated, I am afraid
to let go of the handle.
And like Willy, I believe
that I am too old to drop
this collection of a lifetime.

I hear my teacher’s voice again,
telling me to wiggle my fingers
and toes, to make circles
with my wrists and ankles;
in a few moments, I’ll be rolling
my mat, putting away my props,
putting on my shoes, and leaving
the studio. I know that I will hear
her voice again in my head,
reminding me that there’s nothing
I have to hold, nothing I have to carry.

It will haunt me, this voice, as I cling
to a burden that feels like part of my body—
afraid to allow the mystery that burns
the cord, yet wondering what it would feel
like to be standing, empty-handed,
holding nothing—not even my breath.




Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the chapbook, Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books) and the forthcoming chapbook, The Last Time I Saw You (Finishing Line Press). She is also the author of three Origami Poems Project micro chapbooks, and her poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction have been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana—just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans—also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world. Her author blog is Diane Elayne Dees: Poet and Writer-at-Large.

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