I keep hoping this will be over,
but I remember how fruitlessly
barnyard cats swipe at barn swallows.
I used to feed the cats supper's leftovers,
and they would crowd the porch step,
coming hungry and empty-pawed.
I asked papa why he kept the cats
if they could not catch field mice.
It was their job, as papa's job was to harvest corn.
He sat on his stool, smoking his pipe.
He watched the oak leaves sway in September
afternoon sunlight. A black cat rubbed against his calf.
You never know when they'll bring you a rat.