By Wislawa Szymborska
Die—you can't do that to a cat. Since what can a cat do in an empty apartment? Climb the walls? Rub up against the furniture? Nothing seems different here, but nothing is the same. Nothing has been moved, but there's more space. And at nighttime no lamps are lit. Footsteps on the staircase, but they're new ones. The hand that puts fish on the saucer has changed, too. Something doesn't start at its usual time. Something doesn't happen as it should. Someone was always, always here, then suddenly disappeared and stubbornly stays disappeared. Every closet has been examined. Every shelf has been explored. Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing. A commandment was even broken, papers scattered everywhere. What remains to be done. Just sleep and wait. Just wait till he turns up, just let him show his face. Will he ever get a lesson on what not to do to a cat. Sidle toward him as if unwilling and ever so slow on visibly offended paws, and no leaps or squeals at least to start.