May 23, 2008

Requiem for a kitty

I have this memory box where I keep old stuff, like letters, notes and doodles my sister and I made while we were bored in church, bad poetry, angsty ramblings, band and football programs, etc. Every once in awhile I dig through it a pull out a couple of things. Last night after some champagne, I had the courage to read some of the bad poetry. It makes me cringe to realize how melodramatic and earnest and emotional and serious I was.

In other words, not much has changed.

I found this poem I wrote when I was 14 and my cat died. It was written on a scrap of paper in orange marker. There are words crossed out and written over; there is even one place when I ran out of room on the line I was on and the words take a sudden southward arc down the right side of the paper. I believe there are even some teary smudges in the marker. Jesus.

To fully appreciate this poem, you have to know the story behind this cat. Her name was Kelly, and she had long, silky fur and a little gray “beauty mark” on her cheek. When she was a kitten she had an inner ear infection that left her deaf and her balance off, so when she’d try to run to you she ran diagonally. Since she couldn’t hear herself, when she meowed it came out as sort of a strange, strangled sound.

For awhile we had an above ground pool, and one morning we woke to find that she had fallen into it and drowned. We had to fish her out with the net. I was devastated. So I wrote this poem.

God bless this little cat
Whom we love so much
Soothe her with your kindness
And heal her with your touch.

Blessed are your creations,
From the big down to the small
Better to have loved once
Than to have never loved at all.

Thank you for life
You give to everyone
Let us pray that we’ll meet some day
Under the rising sun.

Please take care of my little cat
For we have loved her well
Bless her whiskers and her fur
And even her little tail.

Please let us remember
That an end comes to everyone
That a finish comes to every life
Though it has just begun.

My little cat
Who will join you now
Please love her as I have
For I already miss her soft meow.

I miss her purrs and her scratches
Even the beauty mark on her cheek
Because she was as gentle
As well as she was sweet.

Dear Lord, I pray you’ll keep her warm and safe
Please protect her
Please guide her in the light
Please don’t let her be so cold
In the ground at night.

Some observations:

1. It surprises me not at all that those last two lines end on such a dark and somber note. I believe that after I wrote those I flung myself on the bed dramatically and wept.

2. It may seem surprising to some of you who met me as an adult, but I was (obviously) still praying quite a bit at the time this orange marker was put to paper.

3. It’s like The Waste Land of cat poetry. It just goes on and on and on.

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