Fat Black Cat (for Loki)

My cat, a fat black

cotton wad with olivine

eyes glassy as moonshine,

is lapping the inside

of my scarred wrist

with a padded pink strip,

unfolding sandpaper licks

as if it were sweet cream.

I wonder at the magical

properties of cat spittle

and how, unlike dogs’,

there is no sticky residue

left behind. 

My cat doesn’t know

how happy this reverential

bathing makes me,

that this is atonement

for what I did to that wrist

years ago—

the whole ugly

history of it.

He doesn’t speak to me

this way, trading horror

stories with the thick tongue

of human despair.

He doesn’t note

the sinewy flesh

while he salves my scar

with the privilege

of his airy tongue,

as if grooming his own paws.

A kiss to my wrist,

or more like the feline

compulsion to cleanse

that rough patch,

is enough redemption

for now, and I listen

to him purr,

a well-oiled reverb,

and my smile, a pearly nimbus

hovering over two black spires.