On Howard Street

I am the cat lady,
and so I’ve grown old
keeping whisker and claw
behind the door
with a high-pitched voice
perfected for calling
through the dense streets
the beasts of my ladyness,
who often roam
the way, in my time,
I took to London:
to read old smells
on every lamp post
and scatter pigeons.
The unpondered grace.

I am a cat lady,
and so I am told of
in a certain tone
and counted among
the crazies and invalids
with whom I share
the long glare of day.
They stay home,
and my high meow
reaches their chimneys
and curls like a woodsmoke
under their toes.

No one knows
the way my beasts rush back,
rippling in their fur and mouse-filled,
bearing seed burs
and that spacious fragrance
of whatever wind is blowing.

Rosemary Starace is coeditor of the forthcoming Letters to the World, an international anthology of poetry. A New York City native, Starace now lives in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.