Michael Fried
"The Light of the Moon"

from To the Center of the Earth (1994;
rpt. New York: Noonday/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996), pp. 62-63

When Cleo was dying
And we didn't yet know it
She spent several whole nights
On the porch roof, communing with the moon.
When we called to her to come in
She ignored us. She knew
What her soul craved--
One more night in the open
Breathing cool air that frisked her whiskers
Until towards dawn she fell asleep under a bough.
Soon, soon, she would need us
To sponge up her vomit,
To console her in her misery,
To give her her medicine and cry,
To hold her paw between our fingers
While something loathsome collected in her throat
And the sour smell of the toxins she couldn't pass reeked through her skin.
But for the moment all she wanted
Was the freedom of the roof.
Although Death had closed his hand around her kidneys
He hadn't yet begun to make a fist
And she had matter for reflection:
How much is enough?
Do humans have souls?
And where does the water go
When it swirls down a drain?
--Age-old problems to think about
By the light of the moon.

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