When she died, they gave me her porcelain cat. White, with orange markings and a red collar, curled into itself in perpetual sleep. I knelt beside it, close to the ground, peering into its face, imploring it to wake. On the days I missed her most, I fell asleep with it, my body curled around the cold, silent object, like a comma.
Years later, a picture hanging above the cat came loose from its hook and fell on it, shattering it, disturbing for the first time the slumber of the cat who never woke. Its remnants dispersed across my bedroom floor. I considered using one of the fragments to carve a name into my arm. But I didn’t know if I should use her name or my own. As I wept, my mother swept up the pieces.
In time, my mother repaired the cat. Reconstructing it piece by piece, gluing it together, but not seamlessly. When she was done, I traced the cracked lines on its back with my fingertips. This became a habit.
My daughter was born with her eyes open. At night, her curved, warm body, sweet with sweat and dreams, nestles in the crook of my arms. Like a comma, like a question.