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The Cats Will Know by Cesare Pavese

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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
Cesare Pavese
Translated by Geoffrey Brock
Rain will fall again
on your smooth pavement,
a light rain like
a breath or a step.
The breeze and the dawn
will flourish again
when you return,
as if beneath your step.
Between flowers and sills
the cats will know.
There will be other days,
there will be other voices.
You will smile alone.
The cats will know.
You will hear words
old and spent and useless
like costumes left over
from 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 rain
and the hyacinth dawn
that wrench the heart of him
who hopes no more for you—
they are the sad smile
you smile by yourself.
There will be other days,
other voices and renewals.
Face of springtime,
we will suffer at daybreak.

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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.

Read more works by Cesare PaveseFind books by this poetFind books by this translator • Or view my library 

Explore poems in pursuit of: forgettingwoundsresilience • Or browse the index


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