A Man to His Cat‌ • Peter Dahl

It was the fullest of days

      he said as he took a drink.

Waking up into the stillness of the morning

quickly struck by the gusts of yesterday’s winds

blowing me into today’s troubled waters.

There I lay, paralyzed, unable and afraid

to throw off the welcome dullness of sleep for

the too real certainties of the day,

too poisoned by the smaug of indolence

to face the monster waiting in the hall.

      He took another drink.

I finally got out of bed, to the protest of my joints

and stood up as my creaky body came into form

and my weary spirit filled the vestiges of my soul.

At that very moment my old enemy started to whisper in my ear

as he breathed venomous words into my mind,

a searing seer with a forked tongue

blurring truth and untruth

and hissing everything I didn’t want to hear.

He followed me all the way out of the house and down the road,

hoping I might quit on the day just to stop and listen.

       He drank a long drink.

And when I got to work my rival was there,

and as always he roared a fearsome roar at me

and bared his teeth and flashed his claws

and challenged me to combat.

Like every day I had no choice but to roll up my sleeves and fight.

We struggled for hours and hours

bruising and battering each other in a relentless struggle,

until finally I bashed his head with a paper weight

and he collapsed.

        He drank.

Then I went and visited her grave.

The walk up the winding path was a mountain to me,

and the day was windy and the rain started to fall

and my flowers looked awful.

I cried a lot this time.

I hoped that I might just sink into the earth next to her

and fall asleep with her one more time forever.

He looked about to drink, but didn’t.

I got home and sat down, but I heard the dragon in the next room

breathing deeply and snorting fire.

I thought it might stay away this time but it had come back

and it wasn’t going to go anywhere.

So I grabbed my biggest kitchen knife and we did battle.

He is so strong, his skin is so tough, and his strikes so fierce.

His blasts of flame burned and threatened to melt my flesh from my bones,

the air I breathed was a hot and choking mass of sulfur.

We crashed throughout the house making a mess of everything

until we were on the rooftop and he lunged at me full force.

I screamed in rage and plunged my knife into his heart.

I staggered back into the house as he quickly died.

          He drank.

Exhausted, I sat down and rested.

But the two-headed snake came back, like always.

It slithered about me, impetuously seeking to provoke me,

hissing and sliding around as it grew bigger and bigger.

I could not ignore it forever,

so I grabbed it below one of the heads and squeezed.

The other head bit me on the wrist, latching on and filling me with poison.

We sat like that for some time

waiting for the other to die.

And that’s when you showed up and scared it off, my beloved friend.

That brings us here, to the end of the day, so long as my enemy doesn’t

try to tell me too much before I fall asleep tonight.

            What are you going to do tomorrow?

            He drank and finished his glass.

The same thing.


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