Marge Piercy

March 31, 1936 / Detroit, Michigan


I was teaching a residency in Cincinnati
living in a loft in Over the Rhine,
our four cats transported from home
from our gardens, our pine and white
oak woods above the marsh—
their paradise and ours.

We were aliens in an alien
land where names like Rosenberg
were Germans, not Jews. We
shopped in a farmers market
that featured a hundred
fifty ways to eat pig.

We were sinking in scum green
stagnant hours. We befriended
a crazy woman for company.
The zoo was walking distance.
Every winter day I didn't teach
we visited and soon

we had made friends. The two
snow leopards would run to
the glass separating us, putting
their paws up to our hands.
They would rub like kitties
against the barrier.

I was not so stupid as
to think without the thick
glass we would romp together.
But they and we were lonely,
far from home, stuck in a place
we didn't and couldn't belong.
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