Cat Remembers Being Young

 for Suki, my Siamese cat, my first love

            I’m lost to dreams of what life once was
when we lived in that old house,
the one where this story began, the house I’d hoped
to live in forever, yet nothing lasts forever,
even my dreams are broken before ending.
But I like lingering on the before rather than after.
Her little bed with its gold sprayed headboard
and the handmade quilt she pulled over us
while napping. Her window, where I viewed
the world beyond and the stillness that surrounded
the hours, where stephanotis brushed against
glass, a flurried reminder of wind marking time.

           It was a place of sun-drenched afternoons,
of cruising old neighborhoods in her painted
red wagon as it rolled along the walkway rimmed
with tiny block houses in green, pink, and yellows,
my tail unfurling in all directions as it sliced
through the blueness of air. The overgrown
willow with its elongated leaves that drooped
in handfuls of sallow green down the driveway,
tiny bits of itself cluttering our path to the front yard.
Petunias bursting over the splintered edge
of the planter-box in too many colors to count.
There was more of everything back then,
and she was still there, my paws kneading
the heart beneath her chest as she cradled
my body and stroked my fur.

           Oh, to the days of catching an ill-fated
mouse, bringing it back to the steps of that house,
to her, the one who loved me, who kept me
close yet gave me the freedom to roam
from tree to tree in search of sparrows,
magpies or squirrels running free. Our
afternoons filled with wonder, ending
with a warm bowl of milk, eight lives still
to follow, since lost to years and fate,
as she abandoned me for something
called college. Now I laze across the sunlit
grass and consider how my purring has become
complacent, hollow as if a concession for having
to go on without her.

           Perhaps this is acceptance, or maybe
death quietly birthing from within as the heart
begins to acquiesce to change in its silent shift
that’s always paired with grief. Her mother
ousting me to ominous oaks on the hillside,
forcing me to grapple with the wilderness of nature
after breaking her beloved Chinese lamp,
one she never used yet placed thoughtlessly
on the edge of a marble table with its long cord
catching my paw in an unfortunate accident,
without the girl to defend me.

           Though, I have no shame in breaking
her mother’s things. Stupid collectibles that cluttered
my route from room to room, hindering my path
in what seemed a deliberate array of breakables.
Today I tap my tail against a dandelion while
admiring my ageless shadow as it looms in
distorted angles beneath the afternoon heat.
I stare and meow at leaves the color of sage
navigating the badlands while pondering memories
of the good old days yet with a sense of indifference.
Just now a rattlesnake is creeping toward me.
It serpentines across the lawn and slithers near.
I hear its sibilant sound never once
having the urge to hiss.

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