When she first came to my home
she hid for three weeks.
that I laid out for her in her new blue bowl,
full each morning,
by evening was gone.
Down the corridor, under the beds,
in wardrobes and bathroom cupboards,
up and down the street
I called called
called her name.
Had she run away?
Had she been run over?
Had she been torn under the jaws
of the neighbour’s jagged fence?
Each morning, her blue bowl,
She arrived suddenly,
dressed in her finest pearls,
white gloves, like a young girl,
hands folded in her lap,
waiting at the threshold to be presented to society.
She had taken the time
to apply eye makeup, black liner
carefully curved to emphasise
the fine upward turn of her green faceted eyes.
From her vantage point at the edge of my corridor,
as I washed dishes,
carried out laundry,
watered pot plants by the back door,
or sat at my desk.
Hers was the stillness of the Sphinx of Egypt,
the slow flow of the River Nile,
except for her eyes
the jagged limits of my life.
Then one day
she followed me, from
laundry to desk to sink to desk to fridge
to lounge to desk to back yard to front
and back to desk desk desk
and she slept,
not in the cardboard box filled
with my old shawls and blankets,
but sometimes on the couch,
sometimes on an armchair by the window
sometimes in a patch of afternoon sun by the back door.
No sleeping place ever seemed quite right,
till one night,
o so gently
she leapt up onto the foot of my bed,
settled herself close like an embryo,
curled herself up at the final turn of the umbilical cord of my toes,
and for the first time in my life,
I learned to purr.
Anita Jawary is a Melbourne writer, artist and poet. She has worked variously as a teacher, academic and freelance journalist. She is a fan of Charles Dickens and has written a series of short stories called The Dickensian Challenge in his honour. Jawary’s poetry and flash fiction have recently been published in Meniscus, Jewish Women of Words, Songs of Eretz, Jewish Literary Journal and Poetica. Her short work of fiction, The Last Time I Saw You, is recently published in the print anthology The Incompleteness Book II. See thedickensianchallenge.com.