Stubby

Posted on April 30, 2011


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Stubby

Wet, matted fur, bleeding

on the front door step, barely mewing.

Tears on your cheeks

Mom dipping the kitten’s half-gone tail

in peroxide.

It snuggles, wrapped in a ragged towel

into the crook of your elbow

You refuse to leave him alone.

He is almost too weak to eat.

You sleep on the floor beside him

feeding him whenever he’ll try to eat.

And finally he does,

With mom’s doctor skills,

your constant love.

He lives.

You name him “Stubby”

Unfortunate choice of names.

But it suits you.

It tells part of his story.

Stubby talks to you

I discover that you speak “cat.”

We have other cats… seven or eight.

I can’t keep track.

But you can recognize them by their

meows, growls, purrs.

Almost they sing to you.

I test you and you are never wrong.

They sound like cats to me, foreign, enigmatic.

But they are a true part of your world.

I can only stand outside, and watch.

It’s OK. They soil my workshop.

Knock over my paint cans.

But they bring you peace

Each day after school

I find you, surrounded by your

furry family. You speak to them

in your special language,

which I cannot understand.

Cats are untrainable?

Whoever said it should meet you.

The calico jumps from ground to your

shoulder, riding easily

as you walk around the property.

The tiger follows, doing a dance around your feet.

But Stubby, who is the king.

Rides most often on your shoulders.

He is royalty.

You walk like the Pied P iper.

Striding across the lawn, your court regent

whispering in your ear.

Mom and I are allergic,

but we endure.

You clean pans, manage feed

fathering and mothering your subjects.

One day as I work the north field

you are at school and Stubby chooses

to accompany me. He stalks imaginary mice.

A flutter of wings, and suddenly I hear a startled cry.

Pain and anguish.

Stubby is in the claws of a hawk

and the bird is climbing away.

I chase it in vain, but hear

cries of agony. Then silence.

The hawk disappears into the woods.

My heart grows an empty space.

What do I do now?

Risk telling and provoking an implosion?

Fight yet another kitchen floor battle with you

as you lash out at my inability

to make the world right.

A coward, I do not tell you.

I remain still. Thinking, hoping

you’ll just get over this,

you’ll pine briefly, but adust.

You do not.

You search, and search.

You call out, “Stubeeeee!”

Each day after school

you wander the fields and woods

looking, calling for him.

You search and call for over a month.

Finally you simply sit on the front

steps and sing, softly…. to your own melody,

“I love you stubby…please come back to me.”

The refrain goes on, like a mantra. Like Whitney.

Both our hearts have been rent.

I am paralyzed.

I am a coward.

I do not know what to say or do.

I have never told you.

And you have never

forgotten the little cat

whose life, like yours

started as a rocky path to survival.

Your heart, your soul, linked to the little

furry beast who rode proudly upon your back.

A void remains, and I struggle to

find a passage to it, hoping

to find some way to help you

to show you the way

to stay away from the hawk.

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Posted in: Autism