blue plastic bowl, ashen earth blue,
like a gray blanket thrown over a new day,
holds three smooth stones destined
for decoration in water lapped up by cat tongue
beyond cat lips. I watch her drink,
and I wonder about my next reincarnation
that my mother constantly warned me about
as I grew up and perceiving myself to be so alone.
“What you do not finish eating will be waiting
for you when you die—rotting and full of maggots.
You will eat what maggots eat, and you will eat the maggots too.”
every day, three times a day, these words were said to me,
ending each meal just as ritualistically as the blessing I whispered
right before my first bite.
I never saw maggots in the flesh, however, until I was 14 years old,
and I’d seen and heard too much by then
to care about religion and afterlife anymore.
until today, this moment, when I wonder about such things
as I sit and sip my cold coffee,
wondering how and if I could someday, maybe,
come back to life as a cat, to be cared for
by someone like me.