doughnut and obscure
by Virginia Lowe

I wasn’t really lost
I was bored
Left alone yet again
this time I crossed the road
wandered through
an overgrown garden
in an open door
There were people
but as well a playful pup
just about the same
size and age as me
We chased one another
round the house
a house designed for this
Parlour to dining room
to kitchen, to hall
to front hall
to parlour again
then reverse as I chased
the pup – Lizzy

The people were worried
that I was really lost
They put me back
out the front door
It took me no time
to find the kitchen door
and join them again

When we had played
some more
Lizzy and I settled down
in front of the fire
I kneaded the carpet
while I had a comforting suck
of the end of my tail

Visitors arrived for dinner
One unceremoniously
turned me upside down
announced I was female
and, though only half grown
old enough to have kittens
This gave them pause
(and me paws…)

I stayed with them the night
and the next day
they went up and down the street
knocking on all the doors
looking for my owners
No one had lost the half grown
black and white kitten
they’d already christened
Doughnut – the round shape
Imparted by tail-sucking

So they went to the vet’s
and left me there
for a day and a night
In the morning,
the jovial vet
presented me back
to the family
saying, with a great laugh
I’ve got news for you
Now he’s dough
without the nuts!

It was several days
before the family
across the road
claimed me
but it was too late
My heart belonged
where Lizzy bounced
and waited.

Years later
the family’s children
persuaded a visit to the
cat show was in order

There was a hideous gold-plated
plastic award for
the Supreme Domestic
which was mine
I also won
Cat with the Longest Whiskers

It all made such
a good anecdote
They had watched me
sucking up to the judges
just as I sucked my tail
(sucking was my forte)
Extrovert, loquacious
I convinced them of
my Supreme status

The Award
in all its glory
sat on the mantelpiece
while the story
was replaced by others
They forgot the trophy
grandiose, ugly
sitting there
above the fire
as if in pride of place
When they realised
they hurried it away
to a far corner
never again
to be seen in public

But I knew I was Supreme
so did Lizzy
and later a new kitten
fluffy grey Obscure
And so did the family
who, in later less-lithe years
had the honour of holding my tail
to my mouth for comfortable
convenient sucking

AUTHOR’S IMAGE CAPTION: Doughnut and Obscure, a painting by Christopher Caitlin, about 1992.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is, of course, a true story. Doughy (as we usually called him) was a charming cat. I wish I had taken a photo of husband John in bed, cat on his chest, book in one hand, cat tail in the other, held to the cat’s mouth for convenient sucking. You never think about a photo of everyday sights until it is too late. Sigh!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Virginia Lowe has run a manuscript assessment agency for 20 years. She previously lectured at university and was a school and public librarian. She has been writing poetry for about 50 years. Her autobiography in verse A Myopic’s Vision is ready for publication (one poem for each year to seventy), and she is working on two novels for children and young adults. She has had seven poems published on the internet by Silver Birch Press, others in Ekphrastic Review, Right Now!, Australian Children’s Poetry, and twelve others anthologised in print. She writes a regular column on children’s responses to books, “Two Children Tell” in Books for Keeps and her book is Stories, Pictures and Reality (Routledge). She was awarded the Leila St John Award for services to children’s literature in Victoria by the CBCA in 2016.