Cat in an Empty Apartment

I had found this intriguing poem on the Internet back in 1998. The link is now dead, but fortunately, I printed the page. The author is Nobel-prize winning poet Wislawa Szymborska.

Cat in an Empty Apartment

Die — you can’t do that to a cat.
Since what can a cat do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the alls?
Rub up against the furniture?
Nothing seems different here,
but nothing is the same.
Nothing has been moved,
but there’s more space.
And at nighttime no lamps are lit.

Footsteps on the staircase,
but they’re new ones.
The hand that puts fish on the saucer
has changed, too.

Something doesn’t start
at its usual time.
Something doesn’t happen
as it should.
Someone was always, always here,
then suddenly disappeared.

Every closet has been examined.
Every shelf has been explored.
Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
A commandment was even broken,
papers scattered everywhere.
What remains to be done.
Just sleep and wait.

Just wait till he turns up,
just let him show his face.
Will he ever get a lesson
on what not to do to a cat.
Sidle toward him
as if unwilling
and ever so slow
on visibly offended paws,
and no leaps or squeals at least to start.

[musica!] Listening to: See You in Miami – Bob Baldwin – Standing Tall (05:19)

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