“Ghost Cat” a Poem by Margaret Atwood

From Her New Collection, Dearly

November 13, 2020  By Margaret Atwood

Cats suffer from dementia too. Did you know that?
Ours did. Not the black one, smart enough
to be neurotic and evade the vet.
The other one, the furrier’s muff, the piece of fluff.
She’d writhe around on the sidewalk
for chance pedestrians, whisker
their trousers, though not when she started losing
what might have been her mind. She’d prowl the night
kitchen, taking a bite
from a tomato here, a ripe peach there,
a crumpet, a softening pear.
Is this what I’m supposed to eat?
Guess not. But what? But where?
Then up the stairs she’d come, moth-footed,
owl-eyed, wailing
like a tiny, fuzzy steam train: Ar-woo! Ar-woo!
So witless and erased. O, who?
Clawing at the bedroom door
shut tight against her. Let me in,
enclose me, tell me who I was.
No good. No purring. No contentment. Out
into the darkened cave of the dining room,
then in, then out, forlorn.
And when I go that way, grow fur, start howling,
scratch at your airwaves:
no matter who I claim
I am or how I love you,
turn the key. Bar the window.


From Dearly by Margaret Atwood. Copyright O.W. Toad Ltd. 2020 . Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in more than forty-five countries, is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV series, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; The MaddAddam Trilogy; The Heart Goes Last; and Hag-Seed. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Franz Kafka International Literary Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award. In 2019 she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in Great Britain for services to literature and her novel The Testaments won the Booker Prize and was longlisted for The Giller Prize. She lives in Toronto.

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