portion of the artwork for Cassandra de Alba's poetry

City that Care Forgot
Cassandra de Alba

In my Storytelling as Performance class
I am memorizing a book about cats, millions
of them. At the end, only one is left:
the best cat. It did not fight the others
because it was scared and small.
This makes it special.

A week later I am in New Orleans.
I’ve never been this far south before.
I eat fried alligator and buy the cheapest cigarettes
I have ever seen. On the third day
we are gutting a house, pulling rusty nails
and killing palm-sized roaches.
I rip up carpets, knock down drywall,
and the irrefutable facts of a family
stare back at me. Playing cards. Buttons.
Dimes. The possessions our houses
swallow and save.

In the last room, the wall comes off
in chunks, filling the air with foul-
smelling dust. We carry stacks of house
to the dumpster, pitching them in
as the neighbors watch. Behind the last
chunk of wall, hugging a corner: a folded
sheet of paper, front and back.
I recognize the words, do not need
to unfold to know: They took the kitten
into the house, where the very old woman
gave it a warm bath and brushed its fur
until it was soft and shiny.

I slip it, still folded, into my pocket.
A tiny, selfish miracle
that will not help anyone.

Return to Archive

FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 38 | Fall 2012