519: Missing Cat
519: Missing Cat
I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.
I have a dog that is my life. She’s snoring next to me right now. She comes with me everywhere, even sleeps on the bathmat while I’m showering. In May she turned 10. A fawn pug with a benevolent dictator-ish personality who wins over everyone she meets. Though according to her, I haven’t gone on long enough, she is my heart.
Once many years ago, she went missing for about fifteen minutes. That might not sound like a long time, but when your dog is very small and very much at your heels at all times, it is terrifying. At the time, we lived on a very treacherous corner of an old country road. Cars would fly by on the hairpin curve and there was no shoulder to speak of. My husband, who was my boyfriend then, had gone out for a run before dinner and I was terrified she had somehow gotten out and followed him.
Because this story is dramatic, there was a light rain falling. I ran through the house screaming her name, I ran outside in the rain screaming her name, I cried, and called my husband who came running back and helped me frantically search for her. We couldn’t, for the life of us, imagine where she had gone, but suddenly, out of desperation, I opened the cabinet under the sink where we kept the garbage can.
And there she was, just sitting there, tiny and wide eyed. Wondering why everyone was screaming her name. I don’t think we ever hugged her harder.
In today’s poem, we see a missing cat come back. But it is the cat in the mind, the idea of the cat, the idea of getting a second chance at loving someone when you think they might be gone forever. It is such a rare feeling to think you have lost someone for good, and by some miraculous happenstance, have them return. We know life is fleeting, but sometimes that just makes us want to hold on tighter.
by Freesia McKee
In a few hours I’ll score my loss and blessings lying in bed like the cats we count when we walk the dog When I was a small kid spring was palm fronds shaking hands in church In the pew I closed my eyes The green backdrop behind the cat Misu hides under the bench In this city I’m supposed to be a teacher Mispronounced a student’s name for weeks Would we say something again if we knew the other person would change My assumption as Misu’s tail wraps around my wrist I think of eating lunch once when we got a phone call A friend had died We thought we knew who I stopped chewing I remember the carrots in my mouth The hunched shoulders the shudder before a second phone call a miracle from the person we thought was gone It rained so hard when we drove here A wet accident at the end of our block Could have been her or us The cat running past Rubbing his soft head against my calves Misu’s back He’s re-appeared I’m want to tell our neighbor Oobi his cat’s escaped the trains cars the predators this time Only loss can redeem itself like this
"Missing Cat" by Freesia McKee. Used by permission of the poet.