A Five-Week-Old Kitten’s Lesson on Fear

A Story About a Fresno City College Cat

Five-week-old squirrelly
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.

five week old kitten

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
spaces behind
pillows, poets, baskets.

Sometimes you would run, but other times you would smile
with a tilted head, a perked ear, an attentive gaze.

kitten with poetry

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

how love
blossoms between
all of us. And in love, I wanted

to protect you. Yet I was sure
fear would rule you, sure
as fear ruled me.

Davey Jones

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,

our domesticity.
This was your family now.

How were you so
brave in the face of death,
brave before your first adversaries?

brave kitten

You vanquished Squiggly Wiggly
whenever he challenged you. I laughed.

You grew.

We bonded.

I knew you were
mine just as you knew
I was yours.

Then
patience help us both
you tried to vanquish the fear
inhabiting my five-foot body.

kitten playing

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.

Philosopher Jones and Davey Jones

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.