Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sixteen

Fifteen cats there were, fifteen in all, over the leap-long years.

Fifteen cats, each twined around her legs, one by one as she grew from a soft breasted girl into the bosom of a full-grown woman, as her hair went from long-thick chestnut to winter-black and one day, streaked with grey.

The fifteen all loved her, in their own way.

So what’s with sixteen?

Weren’t fifteen enough; plump ones, skinny ones, alley cats and posh cats; long-furred and short, ragged-eared and tattooed?

What’s with sixteen, and why does he look at her so, out of the corner of his amber-gold eye, as if she might do something unexpected that he wouldn’t want to miss, as if she might have a bit of sweet magic about her tired old bones yet?

What is it about this one that makes her blood want to sing, her bones want to dance the sly old dance of long ago? What is it that makes her skin glow ruddy, her hair shine the shine of a hundred strokes with a bristle-brush, reaching long past her behind once again, like in those early years, trailing down in anticipation of a playful swat from velvet paw?

What is it about sixteen, his rowl jagged, his cowl ragged, his haunches still strong yet hanging just a little bit low?

She sighs, she sits as the hearth burns low

and he climbs onto her lap, tentative, slow

turns around three times, for three’s the charm

and he sits. Rumbles deep

chin on paws, just a twitch

on the soot-smudged tip

of his dear, merry tail, just a twitch

as her hand runs down his knobby old spine

to its very merry end, runs home.

Rachel Westfall
June 23, 2009

10 comments:

Rikkij said...

somthing about strays and the appreciation they show for a good skritch! Nice thoughts, Rach ~rick

Kyddryn said...

Oh, lovely...what a fine mental picture this makes...

My friend K and I always say we're going to grow old together and be the crazy old cat ladies down the street...sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs, petting our cats, sipping mint juleps, frightening the neighborhood kids.

It's good to have goals.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Oh, I wonder who the dear 16th is??? Could it be? This is delightfully magical. I love the descriptions and poetic language of this. You set the scene so well.

This is wonderful:
What’s with sixteen, and why does he look at her so, out of the corner of his amber-gold eye, as if she might do something unexpected that he wouldn’t want to miss, as if she might have a bit of sweet magic about her tired old bones yet?

christopher said...

A Clowder Of Siamese Cats

Once we had two dams,
a tom, and eight kittens too,
all skittering on
the well waxed lino
floors at tip top speed
trying to turn a hard left
into the kitchen
and making a pile,
a squirming kitten tangle
against the white fridge.

namingconstellations said...

Adorable! :)

Poetikat said...

Have you been reading Eliot? I liked this very much!

Kat

Woman in a Window said...

Sixteen is a very powerful number to me. I'm not sure why. Do you know for yourself or is it instinctual, too?

Cats. There are distinct and important ones and unfortunately, disposable one. My good one died and left me with the meowy refuse.

ConverseMomma said...

But didn't they all hold that expectation, all fifteen before? Is it because 16 is more, or is it because 16 is new. Or is it because 16 will be the last.

RachelW said...

Rick, yes, there is something about strays...

Kyddryn, I'll be right there with you! :)

K, I wonder, too. It's not quite my story, so maybe I'll never get to find out. It makes a good allegory for something else, though.

Christopher, ah, those delightful kitten tangles!

Constellations, thanks :)

Kat, no, but just after I wrote this I picked up a novel that was so very fitting, and quite wonderful so far. Wildlives, by Monique Proulx.

Erin, I don't know? I don't recall sixteen presenting itself to me before, the way it did here. I'm usually drawn to the odd numbers. Sorry to hear your good cat has moved along to a new incarnation.

Kelly, I think that's it. She wasn't anticipating there'd be a 16, or at least she wasn't counting on it. So this one is like a gift.

Catvibe said...

AAAAWWWWWWW!