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Attic Window

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Second Place winner of the "Black Cats are Good Luck" contest

By Tiel Aisha Ansari

She isn't my cat. I just leave the window open for her.

She comes and goes over the shingled roofs that surround us. I've never seen a collar on her, but she's completely at ease in the room. Perhaps she's feral by choice, or perhaps when she's not with me she drinks cream from a china saucer in an elegant drawing room somewhere under one of these roofs.

Once she brought me a dead sparrow, as if in return for the bits of bread and slips of cheese I've given her over the months. Poor fare, but all I could spare from a prisoner's diet. Perhaps she pities my imprisonment. Lord knows, I envy her freedom.

I dream of writing a note and tying it around her neck. Help. I am being held prisoner in an attic. Then what? I don't know what city I'm in or a single street name, and the only landmarks I can give would be invisible from ground level: two roofs over from the chimney pot with the greened-bronze trim, feh.

Last night she slept on my pillow and left the satin case smelling of dust and electricity. This, though it has been raining outside my window for three days. Perhaps she comes to me from some other city altogether. Wouldn't that make a fine mockery of my escape plan?

A moment ago I tried to catch her. She's let me stroke her before, but when I went to pick her up, she scratched at me. I let her go and she vanished out the window.

The scratch is still bleeding. The edges look curiously rough. Almost furry.

I turn from the comfortable bed my considerate captors gave me and look in the mirror. With unutterable relief, I see that the transformation has begun. Long, sensitive whiskers tremble at the corners of my darkening lips. I think my fur will be black like hers.

It's a good thing I've been leaving the window open. In a few more minutes I will have no thumbs on my paws.

Sufi warrior poet Tiel Aisha Ansari has been featured by Measure, Windfall, and Everyman’s Library among many others. Her collections include Knocking from Inside, High-Voltage Lines,Country Well-Known as an Old Nightmare’s Stable, The Day of My First Driving Lesson, and Dervish Lions. She formerly hosted Wider Window Poetry on KBOO Community Radio.

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