I don’t want to be surrounded by people. Or even one person. But I don’t want to always be alone. 

The answer is to become my own pet, hungry for plenty in a plentiful place. 

There is no true solitude, only only. 

At seaside, I have that familiar sense of being left out, too far to glean the secret: how go in?

What an inhuman surface the sea has, always open.

I’m too afraid to go in. I give no yes.

Full of shame, but refuse to litter ever. I pick myself up.

Wind has power. Sun has power. What is power’s source?

                       *                                   *                                  *

There’s no privacy outside. We’ve invaded it. 

There is no life outside empire.  All paradise is performance for people who pay. 

Perhaps I’m an invader and feel I haven’t paid. 

What a waste, to have lost everything in mind.

                       *                                   *                                  *

Watching three mom-like women try to go in, I’m green—I want to join them.  

But they are not my women.  I join them, apologizing. 

They splash away from me—they’re their pod. People are alien. 

I’m an unknown story, erasing myself with seawater. 

There goes my honey and fog, my shoulders and legs.

                       *                                   *                                  *

What could be queerer than this queer tug-lust for what already is, who already am, but other of it?

Happens? That kind of desire anymore? 

Oh I am that queer thing pulling and greener than the blue sea. I’m new with envy. 

Beauty washing over itself. No reflection. No claim. Nothing to see. 

If there’s anything bluer than the ocean it’s its greenness. It’s its turquoise blood, mixing me.

                       *                                   *                                  *

I was a woman alone in the sea. 

Don’t tell anybody, I tell myself.

Don’t try to remember this. Don’t document it.  

Remember: write down to not-document it.

From The Octopus Museum (Knopf 2019) by Brenda Shaughnessy. Copyright © 2019 by Brenda Shaughnessy. Used with the permission of the poet. 

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw—
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air—
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!

Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square—
But when a crime’s discovered, then Macavity’s not there!

He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s.
And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair—
Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty’s gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair—
But it’s useless to investigate—Macavity’s not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
‘It must have been Macavity!’—but he’s a mile away.
You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs;
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
At whatever time the deed took place—MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

From Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Copyright © 1939 by T. S. Eliot, renewed © 1967 by Esme Valerie Eliot. Used with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.