Some ask how could we bring a babe into this time
when the North Pole’s a puddle in the dark
but I ask: what will you do with your cat?
The indoor toms and queens; shall they be released?
When the splash pad’s parched and the fountain’s stripped
will you spend a ration for your familiar, or
shall you calculate their age, deem them roughly adult
and set them free? No, I know you like I know me.
We need to make eyes with someone helpless we can help.
The prompt was cats. We have two cats. Our neighbours have two cats. My sister and her husband, three doors down, have a cat. Ours will be the coziest settlement amidst the fallout.
Pull the spare mattress from under my parents’ bed
comforter under my arm. Leave it. Retrieve
my pillows and Can you try sleeping in your bed?
Could insist I have been, dreamt I died
everyone I love died, and I saw it all
from within the devourer’s maw.
Moments to convince them. Lie down.
Say nothing. They relent but I imagine
them and the trash collector dream of clear floors.
Our home got stuck in the head of a trash collector.
Dream-possible, we are ever up the road.
We march out with stuff and in and out again.
He raps on the truck to signal it forward.
We come with hardwood. We come with gift bags.
The cab necks ahead but the trailer extends as an angler’s jaw.
We shovel up from the cellar. Neighbours sneak more.
Junk mail carriers and paperboys are routed here.
Milkmen resurrect to soak it all.
Butcher pulls up and gestures, “Hey you
—I’m a kill you when you’re here.
This one was the product of two possible prompts: helplessness, and the coziest memory I have. Thanks as always to my parter Kate Maxfield for making me think.