To Mercury

To Mercury

Judy Zhao
Media Staff

Separation by W. S. Merwin 

Your absence has gone through me

Like thread through a needle.

Everything I do is stitched with its color.


mercury sitting on a carpeted stair step

I walk downstairs and you are not there. Not in your spot where the staircase turns, where the sun and your fur warmed the old carpet, where we had to skip a step to keep from waking you


I watch television and you are not there. Not in the empty, cold space where you’d curl up in my lap, where I’d pretend not to mind your sharp claws kneading my skin, where we’d both fall asleep to the sound and rhythm of purring


I open my closet door and you are not there. Not tucked away, where you’d hide from the world but not from me, where you’d shed your all your fur on my clothing, where I’d act like it was a bother to brush it off


You are in the old stains on the carpet, in the empty bowls I picked out for you fourteen years ago, in the half-finished treat bag still left out on the table


You are in the indentations left on my couch, in the soft fuzz that’s gone unvacuumed, in the faded scars on my arm from when I tried to hold on to you too tightly


susannah's cat mercury tucked in a closet

You are in my head, slinking between my thoughts, slipping yourself uninvited into conversations, and falling out onto my keyboard at one in the morning


Your absence follows me around, brushes itself against my ankles, sews itself to my hip, and rests its phantom head in my lap