J, aged six and a bit, says that when he was young he thought that toddler was like butler–but small.
The cinder block wall is painted an ordinary tan and has been put there to fortress the waste bins. Tonight it creates a horizon line for the little cat with the clipped ear we call Kim Bop although God probably calls him something else as he draws lines for me along the wall, back to the retreat he beat away from the threat of the other cat, the bigger cat we want to tell him is no match for us.
We could take him, little guy. Just say the word
Trees remind me of home, as do the adorable wearable blankets one might buy for a baby born in a winter country. I struggle with the pronoun I, construct tree houses and wearable blankets out of words strung around the neck of a woman turning into the composite her grandmothers long gone on to the next thing…home…give me a cup full of it, your face, voice in my head, Man who shows up just in the nick of time in sorrow as piercing as joy.
Perhaps you know this place. Perhaps it is just up the hill, just around the corner, just out of reach on the spectrum of visible light
For-those-who-have ears to hear
She mistrusts me now, with good reason. I took her smallest one and when I brought her back it was only to say goodbye. She moves the surviving ones to the back corner of the closet where they are surrounded by the fragrance of girls’ Sunday dresses, sashes the vines and tangles of a forest we can only see through the window. She shuns the crass plastic takeaway boxes for the Formica bowls we bought in South Korea before you were born, before you were the little ones stashed in the closet for safety. I wish more things were just metaphorical thought experiments and fewer things were laced with grief and its outsider ways.
I understand when she lets me feed her and when she growls be careful, lady, I am done with white man’s justice.
“Don’t worry, Girl,” I tell her. “No white men here anymore.”
I am tired of this thought experiment, this place inside the box where brilliant but uneven men might shape narratives about alive-but-already dead cats. We are all either alive-but-already-dead or entirely eternal in the throes, in the arms, beneath the motherly, sheltering wings
Of the Divine
So good, so very good
setting captives free
What if people (at least four dimensions, mandatorily eternal) could be reduced to letters? You might me a J or a d, I would be the more stolid E, B, or m. But there would be others, people we knew from yesterday or long ago. People like K or even another J or two.
We look for meaning in things like letters, and we are right to do so–meaning is everywhere, the meowing cat left behind to remind us of his master–Living God, whose own call is both fluid and foundational at the same time–living water and corner stones, foundations not washed away by floods.
M asked me how I knew J was gay. I told her an odd story about a single wistful look caught in a rearview mirror–oddest thing always knowing it was you, not me he would have loved.
It did not matter. He was both four dimensional and a parable of letters, sometimes numbers too as he sat in the sun by the pool trying to extract meaning from a single fortune cookie when the inimitable light of the sun through clouds was a painting lit for him by the frickin God of the Universe.
I grew exasperated–Why are you looking for direction from a fortune cookie when His love is right there for the asking? His attention so focused and ransoming?
See so many letters, when you know the real story is much more like a very good doctor doing whatever, whatever he can to save a dying kitten
Six weeks ago we lost a beloved cat who was originally named Billie Holiday until she survived a traumatic near-death experience. We renamed her Miracle.
When Miracle died suddenly I rushed to stuff meaning and hope into the place she had left with us. We adopted a gregarious shelter cat and began to foster a litter of kittens.
For a brief time things looked manageable. We grieved, but we also marveled. Then, one by one the kittens succumbed to something awful. After the first few died we surmised it was panleukopenia. It was an agonizing week of trying everything and then losing them. We lost, then lost again.
I kept thinking this must have been what the plague felt like (worse, of course).
Against cooler heads we adopted a second cat for my college-aged son. She is amazing and is going to be a great city girl.
We knew–no kittens, the panleukopenia is too strong, lingering like a vengeful ghost all around us in the house.
Then we got an email–momma cat, four week old kittens, needed a foster home. I told the coordinator our story. She said she would keep looking, hope for someone less contagious.
No one emailed back.
When we got to the shelter there was a hesitation, some consulting over Momma Cat’s listlessness. They sent her home with us, humans of last resort. It has been a rough season for cats, for shelters, for life or death decisions.
We took this little feline family home and sensed something was wrong. Mama seemed wan and apathetic.
I called the vet the next morning, emailed the shelter. Nothing materialized in terms of veterinary answers so I enlisted the help of a trusted medical professional whose patients are mostly human.
We dosed mama with “subq” liquids and antibiotics left over from the last bacterial thing. We knew this was a race against time. She needed to eat soon.
Last night at 12:30 she started eating. Miraculous.
She went from skinny, listless, glassy-eyed to an engaged and selfless mama cat.
Selfless because she has a moon-shaped laceration on her belly, right across the nursing plain.
I am not sure all the little ones will make it. I am not sure what we will do with our grief if we lose even one.
One thing is sure for me though, this little feline mother is a Wonder Cat to me.
It was Texas-July hot, with no chance of rain when, for reasons beyond the ken of ordinary foster moms, the air was filled with a host of juvenile butterflies. Tender and small, their origami wings beat the air, carrying some insistent message.
Perhaps about how fragile we are
Or how only God knows
how to bring the rain.