by Ilyse and Vern Fein
One minute the cat is an irritation
under your feet, on your lap, kneading your chest,
pawing your face as the sun comes up.
The next, he is lost.
Our hearts crash.
Every emotion cries out.
Dead? But how?
Wild animal? a hawk? a car?
He is beautiful. Did someone pick him up?
We do not know. We simply do not know.
We wring our hearts like we wring our hands.
The maddening part, not knowing.
That feeling roots itself inside,
sits there like a fat, grey toad,
licking its lips beneath an awful smile.
It will not go away until he is found.
Or, it will not go away…
The search begins for as long as it takes.
We comb the neighborhood
like we comb his fur,
every yard, every cranny and nook,
calling, calling, pleading…
He is found!
Clinging high in a tree,
in our own backyard,
scared by a loose dog
too terrified even to meow.
The toad vanishes,
replaced by a weak-kneed joy.
Come sit with me.
PHOTO: Alou Fein
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Alou, the cat of this poem, disappeared overnight, a loose dog scaring him high up into a backyard tree. Despite hours of calling him, he chose to make no sound until later the next morning, propelling us to get our ladder. For pet lovers, a harrowing experience, thus the poem that my wife and I wrote together.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Ilyse and Vern Fein have been married for 42 years. Alou is one in a long series of beloved pets and the latest of the cats. Their backyard is fenced in a manner which prevents his escape . . . they think. Alou is spending his senior years catching insects and laying in the sun. Ilyse and Vern are both retired and taking care of grandsons as well as pets. Vern started writing poetry over a year ago and has had poems published at a variety of sites, this being the second one in Silver Birch Press. Ilyse has a degree in English and has always been a (closeted) editor. She insists she is not creative, but capable. Because this experience with the cat was so traumatic for both of them and Ilyse had as much to say about content as editing, this poem became a collaboration.