Getting on the train at 5:30 at South Station,
you wonder if your stepdaughter has finally given up
on your cat, who has gone missing two weeks ago:
“Can’t she accept he must have been pecked to death?”
Your neighbors have serious birds. You’ve seen them in action.
One photograph of you holding the stupid Garfield
will forever remain between your diary’s crow-like pages.
In the Cohasset shelter, they had warned you:
outdoor cats die soon, especially in the woods.
“His year of freedom was worth ten years in captivity,”
you tell your friends at work. You have no regrets.
Passing through the caverns of Weymouth Landing,
you think back to 4 am that November,
three years ago, when your stepdaughter showed up
at your door, unable to stand another psychotic
outburst of her biological mother.
Your husband greeted her: “Your bedroom is ready.
We have waited for you for 26 years.”
You never had a daughter or a son of your own.
Arriving at Greenbush Station, you gather your manuscripts:
your homework as an editor, moonlighting at your own day job.
After that’s done, you will restore some old chairs.
You get in your station wagon. “It doesn’t cost much
to park here, I’m so fortunate,” you exclaim
and speed through the tunnels of trees high above your head,
trying to forget that a day will come
when your stepdaughter has moved out and the house is empty again,
just like it was for decades,
only there is no one left to wait for this time,
and your ancestors will die with you.
On your way across Little Bridge, you slow down the car.
You notice how beautiful the river is under it.
You would like your ashes scattered across it.
That way, you will be forever part of the hill—
children, boats at high tide—and no flowers needed.
This is a reprint of work originally published in Neptune Court.
Originally from Moscow, Russia, Anton Yakovlev lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and works as a college textbook editor. He studied filmmaking and poetry at Harvard University. His work is published or forthcoming in The New Yorker, Fulcrum, American Arts Quarterly, Measure, The Raintown Review, The New Verse News and elsewhere. He is the author of chapbooks Neptune Court (The Operating System, 2015) and The Ghost of Grant Wood (Finishing Line Press, 2015). He has also directed several short films.