He came to live with us
still briefly playful till he settled down:
more war-torn uncle than surrogate child.
You called him Puss; I nicknamed him The Digger.
He'd lost most of his teeth;
also his balls;
and was so furry that an idiot vet
misdiagnosed him as a girl. For months
we called him Wanda, then we realised.
I made up silly songs about
I still sing sometimes, in the car, alone.
I'd like to say I miss him every day,
but that's a lie. I think about him though.
The way he'd pause mid-lick,
one hind leg held
aloft, and listen - sometimes with a sniff -
for predators or prey behind the lounge.
We might exchange an It's a jungle look.
He slept so calmly it was
good to watch.
He'd seek our company to do it, like
a trick. He was so long retired from hunting birds
that roosting doves would peck around his bowl.
Once only did he sort of
catch a mouse:
an old, fat, sick one that he walked into
beside the stove. He brought it, twitching, to us
as if to say Here, thanks for the sardines.
To my deep shame I kicked
him, more than once,
when he was in the way - not hard, but hard
enough. And he forgave, forgot. If there's
a life hereafter he'll be there, not me.
That mouse he caught: each
time he passed the stove
he'd glance to see if there were any more,
remembering. We used to laugh at it:
instinct, or something. I do it now myself.