“Curiouser and Curiouser,” by Deborah H. Doolittle

Image by Simon Cataudo via freeimages.com

after Raymond Carver’s “Neighbors”


Afterwards, once the neighbors
were gone, the curtains shifted
back to the places they had
occupied before, the water
in the potted plants surged
into the saucers beneath
them and spilled onto the kitchen
floor, even the particles
of dust—gold-tinged in the late
afternoon sunlight—resumed
their steady course of falling,
falling, falling, without landing
on anything, the cat emerged
and sat for a while in its favorite
place in the sun and licked
the spots of its fur that they
had touched and roughed up,
and slicked back those parts
of its coat that had been rubbed
the wrong way.  Only then did
the cat blink at the hollow sound
the house made.  Only then did
the cat think to drink from its
water bowl, which was only
half full.  Only then did it
step over to sniff—once again—
the set of keys by the door.
Only then, did it wonder
why it had not seen the keys
before and why the people
who used them had not returned.


Deborah H. Doolittle has lived in lots of different places but now calls North Carolina home. She has an M.A. in Women’s Studies and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and teaches at Coastal Carolina Community College. She is the author of No Crazy Notions, That Echo, and Floribunda. Some of her poems have recently appeared (or will soon appear) in The Coe Review, Common Ground Review, Manzano Mountain Review, Plainsongs, Rattle, Poetalk, and Slant. She shares a home with her husband, three house cats, and a backyard full of birds.