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the summer dies, the winter comes,
she walks in shadows, stalks the sky.
squirrels and rats have let her be,
return to alleys to hide and seek.
and in between the waking hours,
in the dark with aching knees,
slipping, silent, as her nature,
her tail goes tick, then tock again.

calling out each quiet moment,
each sunlit day and murmured purr,
the daughter, who came furless to her,
who sleeps the night which called to her.

what waits beyond? the shadowed corner,
roots of trees and quiet slumber.
stalks the mother, hunter, catkin,
nights unbroken, the final sleep.
and each nail is brittle, prone to breaking,
her fur is thinning, soon to shedding,
winter coat is somehow colder,
eyes are dimmer, but sharpened still.

but moving, hunting, she makes her way,
down the alley from where she came.
all is quiet, the moon is covered,
clouds across the summer sky.

and then unto the bushes thorny,
there, in dirt that's filled with lead,
down beneath the thicket growing,
underneath the linden tree.

her prey is still, it does not flee her,
her paws are weak, but strong for this,
slow the hunter in summer's closing,
cracks her claws on rain-soaked dirt.

this, at last, does not elude her,
the dirt will part, her wooden den,
roots to curl and warm her body,
where she is skinny, the dirt is thick.

and curling, slowly, deep within it,
beneath the roots, beneath the soil,
behind the thicket, in the garden,
accompanied by bones of prey.

at last will sleep, returned to slumber,
where once was home, and children played,
where once the squirrels and rats did skitter,
the huntress knew her own domain.

and there to sleep and dream of fishes,
and mice within the shadowed rooms.
roots shall take the aging flesh,
her feet, in alleys, ever tread.

I had a really shitty fiance at one point, and, at the beginning of the relationship, a massive grey cat with long fur and a singularly shitty and homicidal attitude towards everyone, including me, until I owned him. (At which point he fell in cat love with me - something like dog affections, except with more purring, sleeping on my chest, and following me everywhere.) Smokey and Scott took an instant dislike to each other - guess the cat could smell douchebags a mile away - and one day, Smokey simply vanished out of a third story apartment building with all the windows and doors closed while I was gone.

Scott wove me a story about cats sometimes taking a walk out when they know they're dying, finding a safe place, and simply curling up and going to sleep. It's a poignant image, the cat leaving their owners, never to return, simply out of sight and out of mind, going to wherever they imagine the home is.

A few years later and remembering cruelty towards my other cats, I wonder now and again what really happened to Smokey. I pray sometimes, that he simply went to sleep somewhere; my suspicious mind, though, remembers him drenching Anubis in the shower for some piss-related offense, and the wariness of Misty whenever he came near. Neither was so violently defensive as Smokey (who left scars), but neither liked Scott very much either.

The thought of the cat trying to go home, though - that stuck with me.

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