When the screen door bangs shut behind my feet
And I switch on the light, never again
Will my ears hear the cry of greeting that
In any other cat would be complaint.
Never again will “she who has found mercy”
Deign to undergo human affection;
Never shall she more “walk by herself”
Throughout her vast and cavernous domain,
Nor lie for hours on the hot water pipe
To comfortably withstand the winter’s chill.
Near thirteen years, or half my life, ago,
Amid a bleak and bitter winter’s cold,
We found her shivering beneath our porch,
Afflicted by (we found) much more than cold.
Though raised amid a rigid, cruel world,
With us—within our walls—she learned to trust,
To rest at peace, to bear indignities,
To live a long and warm, contented life.
This cat, who suffered grievously when young,
Found plenteous mercy at the hand of God.
The Lord, for all these years, gave us to her,
And her to us, but now has taken back—
In mercy still—that which was always his.
Though weeping at her absence and our loss,
I must commend her to his hand of grace,
From which these thirteen years he freely gave.
This Tuesday evening, our cat, Ruhamah—about whom I wrote another poem this summer— was found suffering seizures and insensible, after months living with worsening breast cancer, kidney problems, and general old age. After we prayed over her and did what we could, my parents took her to the most local veterinary hospital we knew of open at that hour, where she was put to sleep. Many friends gave their condolences when I posted about this on Facebook, and a dear friend took time from her busy evening to comfort, condole, and commiserate with me in an IM chat session. And then the thoughts that became this poem began to come to me, and over the rest of the week I gradually fashioned them into what you see above.
As always, I earnestly welcome your (further) comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (perhaps starting with those linked from one of the “archive ” installments, since the full archive is by now, at over two hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know, as part of my preparations for a collection, which poems you think are my best. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.
This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.