The Little Matriarch
I'm staring at a $5 check from Peg Leg Publishing (rock star payday for inclusion in a poetry anthology) and thinking about my 20 year old cat (Serendipity, Sere, i.e., Sara for short) who, it seems, is on her way out. This cat was formerly a crowd favorite. While the other one (Roxanne, years dead and buried in the landscaping just off the patio of our old house in Kalamazoo, MI) would seek out the deepest recesses of the house during our large, obnoxious, improv jam session parties, Sere went from hand to hand, soaking in all the petting she could get. And there could never be enough. She was a glutton for attention. Meanwhile she is also the talkiest, whiniest, most demanding cat I've ever known--one who would actually hound you with her shrill whining at all hours of the day until that bowl of wet food was refilled.
She's now gone oddly silent.
And become indifferent to the wet food she would constantly demand.
And seems to have no more interest in being touched.
And has me counting the times I yelled at her to get "the fuck out of the kitchen" when her bleating had taken me to the throbbing edge of yet another hangover.
Yeah, there's all the cliche's: You don't know what you've got until it's gone. Live every moment like it's your last. Treat others like you'd want them to treat you, (i.e., be your best you at all times, etc.) Which drags Jesus and of course Buddha and the ideal of compassion for all creatures, especially the small and helpless, into this. But let's see how you stand up to ten minutes of shrill bleating from an animal you just fed half an hour ago when your head is thoroughly twisted up in all manner of self concerns. I liken it to someone, let's say a six year old kid, tapping on your forehead with an index finger while going "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, " while you're trying to sleep it off on the couch.
The poem in the anthology is about a dead guy nicknamed Don Ho. A figure who's presence and absence set the evening's tone at the small bar, Missias (the actual name and spelling) I used to frequent back in the 'Zoo. Don Ho died at home and sat dead in a chair in his apartment for two days, a rocks glass of whiskey long gone to water at his elbow by the time they found him.
I'm wondering if I'll end up finding Serendipity curled up stiff in some corner. I hope she goes that easy. I'm wondering if we'll cremate her and if I'll take some of her ash for my altar as a reminder of my often failing patience. Or if the ground here in Muncie, IN is soft enough this late in the season to accept a shovel.
Either way, she's got me, because the silent mornings thereafter will always be filled with the presence of her absence. And I'll somehow find a way to make that about me instead of her, which is something the dead require.