Little kitten ears. Curled up in a terracotta flowerpot. Eyes flash open, and in the green of an unfurled leaf she is quick to see, quicker to steal away. A streak of shadow. Glancing out from her temporary steel shelter in concern, not yet knowing we’re there to take her away. Timidly feral as her nature curls out into her future.
A set of paws, larger now. One white hair, dusted with mud and manure. Clinging to my chest, tense and unwilling. The noise that we’d both feared starts around us. It breaks our calm even before our senses feed it into our minds. My wrist is dripping, her sudden claws departed. A mark that never takes its leave. The tiniest of tattoos, lined up with another that came briefly before her.
Full length now and her coat spinning sunlight. Pushing her limbs outwards, she rolls in the ashes scattered on the tilled dry earth. It’s warm, and the orange roses are swaying where she was sleeping. She sees me, hears my call and answers with chirrups of her own. We rest, enjoying the stillness and the world offered to us in that moment.
I sometimes seek her out, finding her in one of her favoured places. Many I do not know of, but a few I do. Here she will lie in the long silken grasses, and there on the tin roof among the rust-coloured conifer chaff. It’s sharp to my nostrils, rough to my hands. I can’t reach her, but we’ll sit together until one or the other is called away.
Rough red wool, and an exit nearby. This is her indoor place. The heat rolls out and drenches us both into a stupor. It holds us as nothing else we’ve ever known. We stay for as long as the air lies quiet. When it turns to jagged sounds then we’ll leave, skittering quietly, finding our own ways out. I wait for another time for us to come together.
It’s been a year now since I last bent my head to yours, felt the press of your small ragged ear against my closed lid. Whispered goodbye, never knowing who might be taken away first. Felt the curve of your head, the static of your back. I know it’s unlikely we’ll meet again, though I didn’t think it would be me who went before you. A game of numbers I might have won, but this one of circumstance I have not. You’ll stay in your places as I carve out new ones for myself.
Thinking of you, and your small bright ways that lit up my time with you.