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Posts Tagged ‘cat’

Meeting This Moment

There was that night when the cats were frightened

because they saw a feral butterscotch cat outside the door—

and for days they yowled and shrieked at each other

out of fear of what they didn’t understand,

intimidated by what they didn’t know how to fight.

So they fought each other.

Displaced aggression, said the vet,

and she encouraged us to give them space.

Today, when the news is full of butterscotch cats

that come to my door, I understand the instinct

to wail, to caterwaul. I understand the impulse

to fight with someone, anyone, to raise my voice,

to find my claws, to hiss and arch and attack

in an effort to discharge this aggression that pumps in me

churns like a river in flood stage, filled with debris and mud.

And that is when some inner voice,

a voice so quiet it’s almost impossible to hear,

suggests, “Singing is still an option.”

Suggests, “Can you shine in this moment?”

Suggests, “If you choose to speak only love,

if you choose to give space,

how might that change the only thing

you are able to change?”

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This morning the new kitten played with a hair tie

for twenty minutes, kicking it under the table,

swatting it across the room, catching it on a nail

and tossing it into the air. Meanwhile, I tried

to do the same thing with an idea—tried

to bat at it, swipe at it, fling it across the room

and then chase it and pounce on it again.

But that’s not what happened. The idea

sat dead on the desk. I barely even looked at it.

I let my paws make tea instead. And then

went to Facebook. Then vacuumed the room.

Then stared at the idea and wondered why

it hadn’t moved. Boring idea. Dumb idea.

Why did it just sit there, lifeless as a hair tie?

Eventually the kitten, exhausted from frolic,

curled down for a nap. I sat back in the chair,

wondered at what I might learn from the cat.

Picked up the idea again. Gave it a whack. And darned

if it didn’t take on some life as my nose

nudged it into new places. Curious, my whole body

readied to pounce, my tail swishing behind my back.

 

*Yes, friends, we’ve gotten a new kitten, Tamale.

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How It Goes with Hope

Eventually a burning hope
becomes ember, becomes glow,
becomes gone.
Whatever fuel it found
is spent, is done, is ash.
Not that you blame hope
for losing its brilliance.
More that you become
increasingly intimate with what is.
What is is an absence. What is
doesn’t sit in your lap. What is
doesn’t come to the door.
What is is very quiet.
But there is, if not hope,
a tenderness that lingers,
a tenderness that has a glow
of its own, a tenderness
that you carry with you
until it becomes you,
a warmth, a golden light
there when you fall asleep,
still there when you rise.
*
(note: sweet friends, thank you for all the emails and even the lovely letter about the loss of our cat, Otter. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging. She has not returned, and I am quite sure she met a predator. But my dear friend Jack gave me the sweetest advice: Please, when you are ready, begin to—maybe for only a minute—carry Otter in your body. That invitation a couple weeks ago was the basis for the feeling that evolved into this poem. And here it is, evidence of the small ways that we help each other as we carry grief. Thank you all. Thank you.)

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Missing

 

 

Hope is, perhaps, a quantum thing,

a paradox, like Schrödinger’s cat,

simultaneously alive and dead.

 

Today, I wandered the snowy field

and the icy banks and the shadowed wood,

calling the name of my sweet gray cat.

 

If I could find her now, I’d see

she’s either alive or dead.

But in this moment of uncertainty,

 

she’s both alive and dead to me.

I’m tugged by both possibilities as I wade

through tall dry grass. Oh damn that hope,

 

and bless it, too, how just a candle-measure

opposes a whole tower of unfounded certainty,

sends me out into the blizzard

 

calling her name, listening.

 

 

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catching sight

of where she isn’t—

in the dark behind the window

I see only

my own searching

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in the ring with lions,

right where she wants to be

this housecat

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One Curiosity

 

 

 

so unwillingly

the cat jumps out

of the Christmas tree

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Presence

 

 

When the cat ran away,

I noticed how she did not move

between the legs of the chairs,

how she did not yowl by her bowl

nor sit in the window. Everything

I saw was where she was not.

All day, I held it close,

her absence. All day,

I thought how she was not here.

Was it true?

 

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One the Day After

 

 

 

on my lap

the emptiness refuses to purr—

it is all that I hear

 

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One Lament

 

 

 

In the ragged purr of the cat

in my lap I hear all the sun

she has yet to curl into,

all the mice she has yet

to chase, all the days

we don’t have left.

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