519: Missing Cat

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.

Missing Cat
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
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.