The Cat’s Knocked Something Down

by Mark Fischweicher

Sestina – Waves of Light

For Joe


A dish, not waves
crashing, wakes me;  no barefoot summer memories.
It’s cold and dark, my feet
are wrapped in blankets for the night and I assure
you, there’s no bold goddess, no Ms. Darkness disrobing for the light.

My miss-fortune’s on the kitchen floor; the light’s
fluorescent hum can prove it. I’ve seen enough.
I’ll lie awake a while and yawn, eyes closed. I’m sure
to dream.         Bursts of sky.     Walls           Someone waves!
Awake again!  And Itching. I pick the callused skin that gathers on my feet
And think:  Years ago he had the same dry callused skin, remember.

I had to help him with his socks; the memory
of those toe-nails, all thick and chalky, broken. No delight
to pull socks over Them.        Days before he died they fixed the feet.
Orange ointment covered the tips of toes. It was enough,
after the pneumonia, to have them fixed. He smiled where just months earlier
 he’d waved
from the porch, black cloth around his eyes,
comically ordering the whole block around.   Sure

of himself.      Sudden blindness from the laser treatments.  How could he be so
it would return; that the diabetic blood would melt into memory,
that bandages removed, he would see again? How could he wave
as if it were a minor setback, this lack of light,
when that, as far as I could see, was all he demanded from it all, light enough
to see…           The blindness ended, but, after the pneumonia, he never got to his


again…  Now they keep me up.          Base itching feet.
Bright night. Moonlight.         Sweep ashore
the chances of another poem.             It is my inheritance to know what is
I was meant to be awake now, already full of memory
like the sea, and as the light
lifts, the sea falls and the moon waves

foam across the sand.          But First, I will go pick up the dish, and with a wave
of my hand, banish the cat who jumps on the counter.          Silent feet
padding around the pile of dishes until she leaps, alight-
ing on my shoulders; purring around my neck as sure
as ever she has done no wrong waking me to all these memories.
And for me, in the middle of this night, her purring is enough.

There is enough quietness at night; sleep. Waves of light
wash up from in, like darkness, like memory.
I pick at my dry feet. They will get better. I am sure.

Mark Fischweicher has been scratching out poems since junior high school and still hopes they will save the world and help him become a man.