Monday, December 28, 2015

Man with the Can by Donal Mahoney

Image (c) Carol Bales
Every morning
before the sun comes up
there’s a feral cat on our deck
waiting for a can of Fancy Feast.
It’s been that way for years.

It’s not always the same cat
because feral cats come and go
but barring a downpour of rain
or an overnight pile of snow
there’s always a cat
outside our door, looking
through the screen
waiting for service,
sometimes licking its lips.

The same cat can appear
at the door for weeks,
months, even years.
They’re close friends
with my wife but not with me.
We aren’t enemies but
the cats favor my wife.
I understand why.

The cats find our house, I think,
not because the cat underground
says the food’s good but 
somehow the cats know
my wife was a farm girl
that barn cats loved before
she went off to college and
took a job in the city.

I think they begin to believe
my wife is one of them
because almost every summer
she comes out in the afternoon
and sits on the deck and
the morning cat comes back
over the fence and hops up
on her lap for a serious petting.

Over the years the cats and I
have been acquaintances at best.
They know I’m the one who puts 
the can out before dawn
while my wife sleeps in.
But not one of them has ever
cozied up to me, the caterer,
or why not call it as it is,

the man with the can.
I have no problem with that
even if the best greeting
I can expect is caterwauling
on the rare morning I’m slow
popping the lid.