Warm drizzling night at the shore,
front door open, she
came scratching at the screen.
I let her in and thought, bad idea.
I was right, she sensed it
as soon as she drank her milk and dashed
to the couch, settled in my lap. She
knew what she was doing, this young
orange hussy making a play for me.
I called her Kitty, except when
she clawed the rug or chased the birds
or missed her box. Then I
called her Cat! I called her Cat a lot.
She grew to be my independent friend.
We played by her rules. I took
what I could get. We walked
meadows together, climbed trees
together, me in pursuit as she
climbed higher, higher,
me calling Cat!
She slept by me, hogged the bed,
greeted me when I came home,
followed me room to room even when
I tried to hide. I never knew who was more
delighted when she found me.
The years passed and Kitty seemed
so permanent, always there
curling through my legs, on my lap, on
my desk, her motor running, in my thoughts.
Only memories are permanent.
At the vet’s I held her in my arms, tried
to smooth away the hurt. All I could do was
groan with her, hold her tight
before the vet took her away, on my hand
the scratchy touch of her tongue.