Bandida feeds on the back deck
for herself and five
dubbed for the cowl of black fur
around the feline green of her eyes,
abandoned scarred by street edges
but safe on our back deck scarfing down
for herself and five.
One, Seamus, we will take in
pied white and gray
at this moment blue-blind-eyed and mewling
a fragile bluster of fur and need
Bandida's teat world enough.
The bright brute mammal heat of Seamus held
against our shirts
With Seamus on the Backdeck
The morning ritual has found its weight
Since our minds and hearts reluctantly gave in
To returning from Ireland to these benighted states.
Me booked with Heaney's poetry, scribing my letters
In a Trinity College gift shop journal
Of the Long Room bookstuffed to its vaulted rafters,
Seamus – stretchbodied openbellied mewling –
Dazzled by the zigging flies and hunter-spurred
By their zagging attacks, their aerial dueling.
We share this moment full of sentience and flair,
Snapping at the allusive, thrilled by the almost-caught,
Refreshed by the pause of a middle-distance stare.
The difference this:
Seamus does not know about endings
While I, scything through Heaney's stanzas,
Pile up endings by the sheaf-full, tight-bound by twinings
Of promise, pain, penance and sometimes-peace,
All while Seamus snaps, leaps, pirouettes and pounces,
Licks a nub of fur into place, lounges pleased.
Two Seamuses did anchor at our backdeck harbor.
I am glad for the company of each.
One keeps me to port, the other to starboard,
While I make an inroad on the long (but shortening) road ahead.
"Welcome to our home, where cat hair is both a fashion statement and a condiment."
In an article about space junk, the infographic
Showed how materials in orbit have progressed
From a dusting of satellites in orderly calisthenics
To a shaken snowglobe of speeding metal and mess.
Welcome to our home, where four cats' hair
Orbits in mist and lands on every surface,
Despite our rigorous culling of coach and chair
And kitchen and bed and bathroom – endless surplus —
But we would not have it any way else aligned,
A small cost to pay for their palliative presence,
And for the chance given us by our felines
To care for, give comfort to, things not-us,
The chance that counters our despot nature,
The hair shirt that itches us to love each creature.
Cleansing the Litter
Four stations for the bowels of our Fiona,
Our Cordelia, our Banquo, our Seamus –
Daily visitants (sometimes twicely) leaving us
Their gift of intestinal incense extremis.
I sift and top off every morning, my plastic bag
A censer of ammonia and turd, wheat chaff and clay,
While their napping guts and cloistered bladders
Prep upcoming orisons for heavenward delivery.
Part of the everyday round in our six-team harness.
We contract shelter for their indoored condition,
Subclaused with food and medicine, in exchange
For their purring closeness, their bunting affection.
By market logic this does not make sense,
Spending out money (much) to renew
Four mammals that do not return a return
On investment, that do not produce or accrue.
But there is logic, and then there is redemption –
And the latter is what leads us to our oversight –
Being called to care for something other than self
Cleanses our own litter, makes us obligate,
Steady, fast, forgiving: better. Do better. Love better.
Even when they hairball up on the carpet,
Demand 2 a.m. food, do the 4 a.m. steeplechase,
Launch the 6 a.m. pounce because they're up, so up you get.
They liven us – leaven us – lighten us – make us laugh –
A fair trade for what we do on their behalf.
And while we six age together, we do not age the same.
They will use the litter until they don't, and that is that.
We will clean for four, then three, then two, then one,
As our time together becomes more abbreviate.
And we will honor each of them with the proper farewells –
Their absentia will keep making us do better, love better, until
We only have ourselves facing ourselves: lifelong have we been,
Lifelong we will continue. Our loving them has prepared us well.