Schrödinger’s Cat

In the thought experiment, a hypothetical cat may be considered
simultaneously both alive and dead only while it is unobserved in
a closed box.

        ―Wikipedia

I think of him, wrapped in his striped-orange fur, warm
and comfy in his box
right before we open it and gaze down. Killing him softly
as the song says.
But isn’t light always time’s assassin?
Or is it fire?
Because as children we were warned about touching,
or worse,
opening the oven door,
singeing our hands with its heat, or letting it dissipate―
the intemperate air.
The cat, like a living orange souffle, from the French
to breathe.
If we peek in, he’s a goner; leave the door unopened,
he burns.
O Father forgive us, for we have both seen and touched.
In the first weeks
after our baby’s birth, we made a constant vigil, standing
around the crib
as if our watching sustained him, not knowing how we
harm the world
whenever we come too close, whenever we turn away.

 

 

 

 

Jeanne Wagner is the author of four chapbooks and three full-length collections: The Zen Piano-mover, which won the NFSPS Poetry Prize; In the Body of Our Lives, published by Sixteen Rivers Press; and most recently, Everything Turns Into Something Else, published in 2020 as runner-up for the Grayson Book Prize. Her more recent awards include the 2020 Joy Harjo Award and the 2021 Naugatuck Prize. Her work has appeared in North American Review, Cincinnati Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and The Southern Review.