THE SUMMER THE CAT
The summer before the cat died,
she clumped up and down the stairs,
an old woman with arthritis,
and gave long, longing looks
into the garden. We took her outside,
let her brush against iris and daffodil,
snooze on the unmowed grass, let her dream
of chasing birds again, and climbing trees.
Then she woke up startled, needing to be loved.
We gave her cheesecake for her birthday,
chicken hearts, and vitamins.
All that summer, we remembered her as a kitten,
the colour of freestone peaches.
We didn’t know she’d live with us for years,
familiar and strange.
Next summer Peaches was dying,
though for months she ate sunshine and rain.
Ellen S. Jaffe
published in Water Children. Hamilton: Mini Mocho Press, 2002.