Every morning you get up to greet
me at the door and, like an automaton,
pad off to where your breakfast bowl has been;
habit borne of sixteen years of life.
In this house you’ve ruled our every moment,
and emotion, every wistful sigh,
as you lie upon a lap, your tummy
turning upwards, scrummy, mottled brown.
Your ugly face, the essence of your charm,
your sturdy temperament, unfailing, cool;
your bagpuss belly, never varying
its udder-likeness swinging as you walk.
That steady walk, wherever it is you go:
inside, outside, wanting us to know
you are grimalkin and, yet, vulnerable
so you never really leave us, day or night.
This morning you did not get up to greet
me at the door, nor barely twitch a whisker.
But I see you in your favourite place:
lying hunched, but comfortable, close by
the garden mouse hole or a cornered spider;
playing hide and seek amidst the trees;
returning from the hunt with cobweb clung
behind your ear, you didn’t even notice.
Sitting (fairly) neatly waiting for
something – only you know what it is –
only you decide when you are ready
for your tea or for a sleep, who knows…
…where it is that you are off to next,
which is, as ever, entirely up to you.
You take your time, whilst you sit there on
your big comfy cushion in the sky.
© 2011 John Anstie
[This poem is submitted to Victoria Slotto’s “Writers’ Fourth Wednesday” over at The Bardo. Victoria challenged us to write something in the second person (you), as opposed to the first person (I, we) or the third person (he, she, it, they). So, you guessed I cheated, time cheated, because I already had one written, goodness me, three years ago! And sorry it’s a bit sad …]
John, how touching. You’ve make us feel so profoundly with this. The detail and the yearning is ravaging. I’m so sorry you lost your furry friend. It’s always so hard.
Thank you for sharing this with us.
Heartfelt at the time – three years ago; a memory now, as well as being a reminder that this is always going to face us at end of days … but thank you Jamie. Actually, this poem was one of those in the GRPG’s Anthology “Petrichor Rising”.
I thought I’d read it before but couldn’t remember where.
Yes! The demise of our little friends always works as a reminder. They are so dignified about it too, so accepting. I think they teach us how to do the job.
Happy day, John. Thanks for participating.
What a wonderful tribute to such a big part of your life. People who have “fur-babies” rarely see them as “just a cat” or “just a dog”, but very much as four-footed children. I could picture this kitty as surely as if you had taken a photograph, John. I think there are mannerisms or things that all cats share, and could relate all the more for having cats of my own. I am so sorry for your loss. 😦 It is never easy to let them go, but this was a beautifully written poem to what was surely a very special cat. A great piece for the prompt!
Oh it is so touching and, indeed sad…it hit home today as my little dog, not old, spend the day at the vets. She is in terrible pain due to a compressed disc in her cervical spine. But these is such a blend of joy and pain in this poignant poem. How they become a part of us, heh? Sorry I’m late reading. My Internet access is so spotty right now.
Beautiful & so very true. Rest in peace Soph, we miss you dearly xxx
It made me cry again. Just when I’m trying to be brave and stiff upper lip about losing her. Why do we have to put on a brave face for the rest of the world when our loss is so acute? Because she was ‘only a cat’ and so many people don’t understand how much of our hearts they may occupy.
And you’re right, inspite of all the animals who’ve shared our life, it doesn’t get any easier to part with them. I’m glad you understand. This poem says you do.
I do understand, deeply. I’m sorry it made you cry again; perhaps that’s a good thing. What affects me most is how deeply you feel it.