Cat in an Empty Apartment

 
Die – One doesn’t do that to a cat.
For what’s a cat to do
in an empty apartment.
Climb up the walls.
Rub up against the furniture.
Nothing seems changed here,
yet it’s still changed.
Nothing’s been moved,
yet it seems pushed back.
And the light no longer comes on in the evenings
 
Footsteps can be heard on the stairs,
but not the ones.
The hand that puts fish into the bowl
is not the one that used to, either.
 
Something does not begin
at its usual time.
Something doesn’t take place
as it should.
Someone was here, and was,
and then suddenly disappeared
and now stubbornly is not.
 
All the closets have been inspected.
All the shelves run across.
The carpet has been squeezed under and checked out.
Even the commandment has been broken
and the papers have been scattered.
What else is there to do
but sleep and wait.
 
Oh, let him come back,
let him show his face.
Then he’ll learn the lesson
that one doesn’t do that to a cat.
Walk toward him
with feigned reluctance
slowly
on one’s very offended paws.
No leaps or squeals, at least to begin with.
 
Wisława Szymborska
trans. Piotr Małysz