I know what she’s going through. I know how
anyone who’s loved a cat, allowed one
to sleep against her face, allowed one
to lay its full body along her outstretched
legs until they go numb, can grieve for months.
I once met a woman so attached
to her cat she couldn’t imagine her
house without it, left the cat’s body
on the coffee table, an honest wake,
until her grown son had had enough.
I know another who keeps her cat’s ashes
on the mantle in a little cedar
box, In Loving Memory burned into
the lid, the cat dead some several years.
I even understand how hard it is
to get them to the vet. Cats, unlike dogs,
cannot be tricked into your truck.
And I understand because I used
to love a man who hurt me with his heart.
We had a cat. Sometimes I think if I
had not stopped loving him, if I had not
left for the arms of a boy who held me
as if I could break, that cat would be alive.
I would’ve been there to see the sores,
the open-mouthed breathing, I would’ve been
there to save her. That man saw nothing,
did little but bury her when she finally
gave in. At least that’s something. I live
in another city now, too far away
to visit, but I’m sure she’s an angel.
Yes, love for an animal can make you whole,
especially if it’s all you’ve got for now.