The Cats Will Know by Cesare Pavese
MARGINALIA • SKIP TO THE POEM
There will be other days. Not now, but in the near future, or perhaps on a random evening while standing before a pot of soup you’re stirring. Or maybe while you’re scrubbing your legs in the shower. Or pushing the grocery cart towards the second aisle where you know there’ll definitely be Japanese mayo.
There will be other days. It doesn’t have to be today. Or tomorrow even. Today you can just burrow under the blanket. Or have a cookie for breakfast. Or look at pictures of cats.
Have I told you that one time when I thought I couldn’t possibly. Not this one in particular, I couldn’t. My mind simply refused to fathom that there is an alternative. I was on my back staring at the ceiling in the dark and I thought, I can’t any longer. And yet here I am.
Here is a gesture I made: I called a friend and said, do you want to have lunch? I could use a friend. Call it wanting to participate in the world again. Call it renewal.
There will be other days. Today it is enough to be gentle with yourself.
Happy birthday, Cesare Pavese, whose words are gestures towards things I am unable to name today.
The Cats Will Know
Translated by Geoffrey BrockRain will fall againon your smooth pavement,a light rain likea breath or a step.The breeze and the dawnwill flourish againwhen you return,as if beneath your step.Between flowers and sillsthe cats will know.There will be other days,there will be other voices.You will smile alone.The cats will know.You will hear wordsold and spent and uselesslike costumes left overfrom yesterday’s parties.You too will make gestures.You’ll answer with words—face of springtime,you too will make gestures.The cats will know,face of springtime;and the light rainand the hyacinth dawnthat wrench the heart of himwho hopes no more for you—they are the sad smileyou smile by yourself.There will be other days,other voices and renewals.Face of springtime,we will suffer at daybreak.
[expand title=”Endnotes” tag=”h6″ expanded=”true”]
This poem appeared in Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950 by Cesare Pavese, translated by Geoffrey Brock, published by Copper Canyon Press, 2002. Shared here with profound gratitude.
[expand title=”Dear Reader” tag=”h6″]
This little corner of the world is my passion project since 2005. My commitment is that it will always remain free to all. If this place holds meaning for you, would you consider supporting it? This can be in the form of a cup of coffee (+ other ways).
Note that Read A Little Poetry may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through any links on this site. It is at no additional cost to you and helps in the upkeep of this space.
Thank you for being here all these years—and into the future—as I hold poets to the light.
[expand title=”Pin This” tag=”h6″]