When your stepdaughter warns you not to let her roommate’s cat escape…

it’s like she has a premonition.
After she leaves you’ll explore her off-campus apartment,
snoop in her drawers, try on her graduation cap.
You will smoke her dope & drink her last Bud Light.
The two of you have never been close.
You’ll read the roommate’s diary, take notes.
The cat, a tom of indeterminate age,
will rub his thin, orange body against your ankles.
You’ll walk into the bathroom to pee,
gag at the litter box teeming with hardened turds,
avoiding the ones on the floor.
The ammonia of cat piss mixed with
the unmistakable scent of soiled Kotex
will leak into the hall
where it will mingle with four-day old Mexican food
and pizza stuck on plates in the kitchen.
You’ll recall your stepdaughter’s slovenly ways,
how badly she treated you,
how relieved you were when she left home.
The cat will pace, yowling at the bathroom door like Tom Petty.
But when you put him in the litter box, he’ll balk, stare up at you
with marmalade eyes, nudge you toward the front door.
It will be an act of mercy.
Later, you will sit on the stained couch
where you’ll watch reruns of Forensic Files in the fading light,
and wait for your stepdaughter’s return.
Then you will deny everything.

Alexis Rhone Fancher
Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Verse Daily, Plume, Rattle, The American Journal of Poetry, Diode, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Nashville Review, Poetry East, and elsewhere. She’s the author of four poetry collections, most recently, State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here, (2017) and Junkie Wife, (2018). Her photos are published worldwide. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. www.alexisrhonefancher.com