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In the palace of the cats, we minused and gnawed.
We burrowed and simulated, skirting the wormholes.
In the shiny halls, cubist paintings looked down on us
Like startled Martians; lavish flower arrangements loomed
From the persistent étagères. Our peril
Was molten and diabolical, with a side of told you so.
Our children vanished and reappeared under different names.
All day, cats covered in gold sat in their perpendicular chairs,
Planning invasions. In the padded drawing-rooms
They ate statement salads and filed their nails.
Item: Beshrew areas of carpet or supernumerary globes.
Item: The case of M., who was flattened by a ewer.
Each day, the smell of cat wafted malevolently through the cracks
In the platinum ceiling. We cowered and filleted
In our synthetic beds. The glamour of the cats
Was undeniable, like their long and curling hair.
They rinsed their paws in lemon-scented finger bowls
Between fish courses. A potpourri of tiny bells
Rang out silkily whenever one of them passed by.
We did covet and die many times
In the palace of the cats. Beneath the jagged
Candelabras, with our backward fur and shifty eyes,
We were killed like children. The antlers on the wall
Were implacable as Valkyries. Some of the cats
Played drastic minuets on diminutive grand pianos.
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But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.
Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.