A Story About a Fresno City College Cat
kitten, you flung yourself in
front of my car when you were
soaked with rain. Then you jumped into a nearby fence, where you clung, until (without thinking) I scooped you up and brought you into my car.
After I took you home, dried you
off, you hissed
and cobra-spit my way. Your body shook, but you were not about to let me eat you, not about to live a life unless it was worth
fighting for. How long
did it take you, five-week-old
squirrelly kitten, to know you were safe? For days, as I considered
your temporary or permanent stay, you sought
pillows, poets, baskets.
Sometimes you would run, but other times you would smile
with a tilted head, a perked ear, an attentive gaze.
Your favorites were also mine: books, delicious dinners, and nights with play. Dare I say, you burrowed into my heart through these
nuisances? But this is
all of us. And in love, I wanted
to protect you. Yet I was sure
fear would rule you, sure
as fear ruled me.
Your gaze felt anything
but carefree. Did you miss
your mother? I also missed
mine, gone six-hundred miles away; sometimes, I wondered if I should bring you back to where we met, in the rainy parking lot, back to her—yet that night, you nearly died, and I believed, that marked your fate, my fate,
This was your family now.
How were you so
brave in the face of death,
brave before your first adversaries?
You vanquished Squiggly Wiggly
whenever he challenged you. I laughed.
I knew you were
mine just as you knew
I was yours.
patience help us both
you tried to vanquish the fear
inhabiting my five-foot body.
You thought to bleed fear from me
like an exorcism. You have always been a little rough.
I adore you for this mischief, these bouts
of stupidity and courage. Your fear
is still present, of course, but it blurs in
the face of greater definitions.
Me, my boyfriend, my other cats: we feel that love radiating from your body. No fear; no darkness; no callous memories of dark nights hold you captive anymore. Still bigger you get—still wider your light spreads;
still you show the rest of us how to be.