THE SOUND OF THE ONLY FRIEND I EVER HAD
In the darkness of the early mornings
Lying in my bed
Enjoying the coolest moments of the day
I’d just listen.
First the sweeping would begin
Quick slashes of straw against pavement,
And bits of trash being moved along.
Afterwards the sound of running water
Then that water being splashed
Over the sidewalk and the courtyard
A few voices would cut into the quiet
And soon enough the clinks and bangs
Of metal being dragged and assembled
The vendor stalls being rolled along
And racks and booths being built.
Then a pot being set on a skillet
the hissing and cracking of oil,
And the morning meal was underway.
A television would be turned on,
And soft, quiet soap music
Would sift through the guesthouse,
wander out through the windows
And doors and cracks in the walls.
And suddenly a faint scratching,
On the packing tape that covered
The entire bottom half of my window.
I listened for a few moments,
Realizing it was out of the ordinary.
Then I pulled back the shade,
And through the brown plastic
The outline of a cat, a kitten perhaps.
With a smile I popped out of bed,
And just watched sneakily,
The silhouette of his little paw
tapping and scraping at the tape.
Then, with a great smile on my face,
I gave a quick tap back,
Right against his paw,
And the shadow snapped and disappeared,
Not leaving a sound of his soft pads
Against the corrugated metal roof.
I leaned back in bed, smiling like
A mischievous schoolboy.
But in those few moments of scratching,
I’d become engaged to the sound,
As it was something out of the ordinary,
And something living and friendly.
And I cursed myself, saying, “well,
There you go. You just scared off
The only friend you ever had.”