Monday, November 7, 2011

Death in the Garden

On Sunday morning November 6, 2011, we lost our beautiful cat, Daphne. She was 15 years old and had been getting thinner and more fragile since the summer. She went missing on Saturday night - the coldest night since last winter - and when she didn't return in the morning, we knew things were bad. We searched under bushes in every yard and called her name up and down the street, and the incoherent prayers that I'd been sending up began to coalesce into one fervent plea, "Please god, let me see her again one more time."

An instinct made Mike pull aside a large plant pot in our neighbors' yard and there she was, limp, apparently lifeless but still - just - alive. He held her as I ran, heart pounding, to the house to get my purse and keys and a blanket. Then he laid her on my lap in the back of the car and drove as fast as he dared to the emergency animal hospital. I cradled her in my arms and crooned at her as she drew her last slow rasping breaths, looking up with eyes that didn't see me. By the time we pulled up outside the hospital,I could tell she was gone.

Some kind friends have pointed me to this poem, which is a far better epitaph for my darling girl than I can come up with in my fumbling, incoherent grief. It's by the Pulitzer prize-winning poet, Franz Wright.

On the Death of a Cat

In life, death
was nothing
to you: I am

willing to wager
my soul that it
simply never occured

to your nightmareless
mind, while sleep
was everything

(see it raised to an infinite
power and perfection) - no death

in you then, so now
how even less. Dear stealth
of innocence

licked polished
to an evil
luster, little

milk fang, whiskered
friend -


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