November 2015 - Comments Off

Sylvia Madaras

My Cat Is in Love With Breakfast

My old cat yowls and yowls long after I have fed her. She gains no weight, despite our best attempts to worm her. It has been weeks like this; her hunger eating her hollow from the inside.

I fill her bowl with dry food, and she comes bounding down from the hayloft looking like the lions I have seen on TV. Wild-haired and following her longing to its soft-spot: the food bowl, or jugular of some sacrificial antelope. She leaps onto the desk in the barn and beats her hunger to its source and then hunches over the dusty bowl, her ancestral haunches and scapulae arched up against the sky, and lowers her muzzle to fill her aching belly.

The food does not fill anything in her. It can’t. But it fills the bowl in any case and she will wait for it all day, hollow as a bell rung out and yowling on my lawn. She talks to God about her hunger. I keep thinking if she talks just loud enough, the angels will lighten up a little and help us out. Maybe wet food would do the trick.

She rolls on the hot stones of our long lane. She howls her empty gut up to the sky, demonstrating something about blind devotion, or a cat’s uncanny ability to stretch out lengthwise to almost three times what seems to be their normal size. She cleans herself all the while, waiting like a Baptist in her best shoes for the white horse to come and take her away. She wails at the weather and waits for me instead, I am less beautiful but more reliable than the angels, to come to fill her food bowl again, while she grows thinner by the day.

When we argue cats or dogs, my sister never hesitates to bring up the “Cats will eat your face” argument. She is staunchly in favor of dogs, and so I have grown up a die-hard supporter of cats. I accept the scientific fact that a cat will eat my dead body if my dead body and she were trapped in a house together. Some scientist must have proved this by dying in a shitty Brooklyn apartment with her video camera turned on. The cat would eat me first, before the shoes or linens, old tissues, photographs, whatever a dog would eat in order to sit beside my un-marred body while I rotted. I find the cat scenario more comforting. Every natural creature should hunt down anything that might make it whole, and eat it as soon as it is dead, especially its face because the last thing I want on my dead body is some face reminding people of the person they thought my body was. And if it fills her belly even once, then I have been of use to God, who could not bend his great big body low enough to reach us while we starved.

Outside, my old cat is eating breakfast. She sighs and rumbles like a tiny, satisfied train car. The deep shadows carving out her spine pool wider than they did a week ago. I think I must be watching her die.

Published by: in Issue 1: Fall 2015, Prose, Volume 72

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