I feel your hands upon me, but they are not her hands;
I smell her smell in the studio, and she is not here.
Why do you weary me with your useless caresses,
you houseguest-stranger, when she is not here?
The food you are giving me is the wrong kind of food;
you feed me the wrong food at the wrong time of day.
The table’s out of place, and all the chairs are moved,
since those tall, solemn trousers came and carried her away.
Pray, when will I see her again, please?
Say, when will I hear her tramp in at the door?
Her stiff soft hands will pet me, and her eyes will smile,
and her mouth will ask me, Would you like some more?
She will be very angry with you, my good people,
the way you’ve tossed her things (and me) about.
She’ll be cross and scold you, and she’ll chase you with a broomstick,
the way you’ve turned our cottage inside-out!
The clock strikes one, and she hasn’t come;
the paints and the canvas are dry as a bone.
You call, you come and stroke me, but I do not answer—
any minute now, my mistress will be home.
Any minute now … the clock strikes one,
the windbells cease their chiming. She will not come today.
But when she does, then I shall purr against her,
and we’ll forget she ever went away.
Samantha Pious is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the proud caretaker of her grandmother’s kitten (now a fully grown cat). Her first book, A Crown of Violets (Headmistress Press, 2015), offers a selection of Renée Vivien’s French poetry in new English translations. The original poems are available as an appendix in the current issue of Lavender Review.