- Rachel Linton
By Rachel Linton
Photo by Jack Plant via Upsplash.
I am hosing out the litterbox
in a hundred-degree weather, because
it is August in California and the cat,
heedless of the seasons,
still needs to shit.
John Keats was an idiot--
how do you get to twenty-three
without figuring out that the truth
is not always beautiful?
You can talk all you want
about beauty and truth,
but sometimes you get one or the other--
summer in California isn’t all coastal,
it’s dry heat and gnats and even
the cactus, which is supposedly
in its ecological niche here in the desert
--a nice way of saying it suffers better
than any other plant--
is thinking about throwing in the towel,
and by and large people like their poetry
beautiful over anything else.
Even Mary Oliver must have been filing
the sharper edges off of things--
all those buzzing insects never bite,
and there are no leeches
in her shining blue ponds,
and she makes even allergies sound
a part of something golden and perfect,
which I can tell you is straight-up bullshit.
But I can’t blame her--the thing about truth
is that you can get it anywhere, the minutiae
of the weeds and the bug bites, and
bad coffee, and the cat showing how grateful
she feels for her nice clean box
by taking a dump as soon as you’re back inside.
Beauty is harder to come by, so instead
I’ll tell you that the light is beautiful,
slanting through the window and silhouetting
the crate myrtle on the hardwood
of the air-conditioned room, and the cat
is soft and purring and flopped on the floor,
like the keeper of a toll bridge,
makes you pet her to pass,
and it will be just the right temperature
to go for a walk,
when the sun goes down.