Marion sits all day in Assisted Living:
to her, one door from senescence, two
from the casket, three from reunion
with her departed daughter, Barbara.
Today Barbara's friend Emily brings
Mr. Whisk in his cat cage for a visit,
in this home where living is assisted,
dying discouraged--but permitted.
Marion's loneliness really gets across
to the younger woman: how all hope
can curl up and quit in an easy chair,
how you can die of professional care.
It is hard for the youthful to identify
with old age. But Emily understands:
no room to turn around; a look at life
as through wire--a kind of kitty cage.
Marion loves cats. You notice a row
of photos on the bureau: all the cats
she has outlived, just as she survived
Barbara--and also one of two sons.
See, she emerges from her lethargy,
while Mr. Whisk is relieved to find
he isn't at the vet's! A cat gives new
life to an old woman, out of his nine.