How My Life Story Wound Up in the Sentinel
Startled awake by the end of the rain,
I rise to the quiet push of air
against my face and brain. I light the fire,
then lie on the couch under quilts.
One gray cat lies on top of me,
and the other jumps up soon after;
so for this long time before full light,
I am a warm bed for cats.
They fit themselves along the curves of my body,
pressing into the empty spaces.
My shoulder and arm are tucked
and held in place by the large male cat,
my folded knees and legs
pinned by the smaller yet heavier female.
As I reach for yesterday’s Sentinel
and the crossword puzzle pen clipped to it,
the male cat spills from my shoulder and arm
and moves to my hip.
Forsaking the Sunday puzzle,
I instead stroke his soft fur—
this stroke becoming an addiction
to both me and the cat,
who butts my hand with his head when I quit.
With my other hand,
I squeeze words into the margins of the newspaper—
the only paper within arm’s reach.
I have filled the margins of page one and I am writing
over the picture of a Maine house with no power.
My ink partially obscures the name of the female cadet
who has dropped out of the Virginia Military Academy
as my pen nudges closer to the comic pages.
I am telling my life story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Over Dear Abby, my pen sails like a schooner.
When she says to practice tough love,
my words are over her words and my words say,
“I let the cat out
to the cold morning that fills the spaces
between the redwood trees.”
Five minutes later, he’s back again
crying at the door,
and I tell of it,
crossing the obituaries with details
of life in the mountains with cats
and a husband still sensibly in bed.
I write of rain that sits like a box around us
for five months of every year,
pressing our minds down to crossword puzzles
and mystery novels until,
huddled in bed under the electric blanket,
we find each other curled up
in the same cocoon.
His body spooned to my body
like a cat,
under the covers of rain,
we draw again into
the small bit of magic that powers
our crowded lives.
Outside, crisp air stands still, expectant,
as from very high above, a squirrel
drops cone shards like confetti
from a swaying redwood branch,
her crooning forest calls
falling with them.
The sun is rising
and clear air beckons me to walk
to the end of our long rain-soaked driveway
to retrieve today’s paper.
In the long hours spent awaiting dawn,
I’ve filled up with these words
the margins of yesterday’s paper.
I’ve crosshatched the want ads
and the “Bay Living” section
and the comics,
So that a gray squirrel
zips across Blondie’s nose,
and a redwood tree spills its needles
onto Hagar the Horrible.
Somehow, my spouse ends up
nestled into bed
next to Dagwood,
and Cathy is almost obscured
by the curled bodies of cats.
Moving away from, then settling back into
this safe nest we’ve made,
I add one last description of my journey
down my driveway
and a life that for this moment
is released from rain.
And that is how my story—
what fills up my life—
came to fill up
the pages of the Sentinel.
The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem in the form of a news article you wish would come out tomorrow.