Something is Wrong

About three weeks ago, one of our three cats died. He was fourteen and a half years old and in good health until the night before he died. It was a peaceful end to what I think was a very contented life; this cat had a high opinion of himself that never wavered and things seemed to suit him just fine at our house.

Once he was gone, things seemed a little out of balance at our house for a few days. I wrote this poem because of the way I felt, plain and simple.

By the way, this cat, Jasper, was the brother of Raquel, mentioned in a recent post. If you take the two poems together you have a little portrait of the end of the life-long relationship they had. Raquel is settling down now, but she still seems to be looking for Jasper at times.

Something is Wrong

Watermelon shifting restlessly in its paper bag on the floor
behind my seat
I feel it thud
every time I press the brake or turn the car
I try to turn
gently.
The air conditioning blows freezing cold on my hand
all the vents are turned toward me
on this humid hot summer afternoon.
The sky is a thick metallic-glazed bowl
marked with blue spaces that
open and shut.
In the filtered breezy strong two o’clock light
the leaves on the trees are turning over
the thunderclouds are building.
This afternoon
I have a dead cat on the floor in my basement laundry room
where he died this morning of old age
peacefully
I know because I was there
but then
I had to go out for errands so I covered him with a towel
as a friend suggested
and left everything for later.
I stop for the red light
too hard
the watermelon rolls the bag crackles
my purse falls off the front seat on to the floor
and spills its contents
all over

Raquel (in front) and Jasper, 2001.

Raquel (in front) and Jasper, 2001.

Jasper, grown up.

Jasper, grown up.

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21 thoughts on “Something is Wrong

  1. Death leaves one suspended in such a unexplainable zone. Thank you for sharing your poem. Jasper is a beautiful cat.

  2. You know, I really do think he was the most satisfied creature on earth. I know he was very happy with his life, he just exuded contentment and a certain…entitlement! We miss him. thanks for writing.

  3. So sorry about Jasper but you gave him a wonderful life and peaceful death. He was a beautiful boy. I remember–with tears–every pet I ever had. I think that’s the price we pay for all they give us. I have no excuse for not keeping in touch, but I’ve read every post and poem since I last wrote, and my respect and delight in you and your work continues to grow. I am so proud to know you, let alone be your cousin. Broke a bone in my foot a couple of weeks ago, which put me off the tennis court for 2-3 months, so I share a little of what you’ve been going through the last couple of years. I am not sharing a poetry explosion, however. The lack of exercise has taken the wind out of my sails. So…I’m swimming at the tennis club instead. Alex can tell you my strokes need lots of work, so I’m hoping to improve. Alex’s daughter,who was five in June, just won most improved six and under girl for the second year at the tennis club swim team banquet. She is especially good in back stroke and breast stroke. Sorry for the bragging, but alas can’t help it. Love you. Miss you.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  4. Oh Claudia. I am so sorry for your loss, and for Raquel’s.

    I also love love love your grief poem, though I feel weird saying that, given the subject matter.

  5. It does leave a hole. Two of my neighbor’s cats died over the winter (they too were old), and since they were always on our deck in the summer, and one of them liked to come in and visit as well, we’ve got a hole in our summer too.

  6. Thank you for all your compliments.

    I think Jasper had the most satisfying life anyone can hope for – he did exactly what he wanted and looked good doing it! We miss him, but I feel a sense of rightness about how he went – once again, in his own way! Raquel is doing well, although confused a bit. We give her more attention right now.

    Writing poems is like my diary. I work out all my feelings. Thanks for what you said about the poem.

  7. That picture is hilarious! I think you are right about the resemblance between the cats – it is remarkable. We have had cats for 30 years and each one unique, of course, and missed in his or her own way.

  8. Yes, we have had a lot of cats over the past 30 years and I miss each one in his or her own way, no matter how long ago it was. And we have many memories, too!

  9. I find I keep “hearing” Jasper meowing in the basement when I am upstairs and I think, “Now what is he doing?” and then I remember…funny how that works…

  10. Thank you. Yes, he was handsome, and I think he had the most beautiful paws, if I am focusing on his looks. A lovely tan, and the color went up his legs a bit so that he looked like he had on gloves…

  11. I am sorry for your loss. Cats are such a blessing, aren’t they? I am so grateful for every day with my current furry friends and have so many wonderful memories of the cats who have helped shape my life.

  12. I think we will stay a one cat family for now, for the first time in about 30 years. I am not sure I want to take on anymore personalities full time – I want to be less responsible in this next phase of my life. I am thinking of filling the cat void with being a volunteer with a local group instead…our remaining cat is very people oriented and so I was his social life anyway, and he seems to be adjusting to single catness!

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