She never raised a paw in anger to me; nothing but love
Was ever painted on her tiny tapering face.
She didn’t so much walk as stalk across the floor,
Her always-out claws, shattered hips and arched spine
Made moving in straight lines from As to Bs impossible.
And often she would just sit there at my feet,
Staring, her hazel and gold dragon eyes locked on mine
Like feline phasers and I’d wonder what she was thinking,
What memories were rising to the surface as she looked into me.
Sometimes in her sleep, with eyelids twitching and tiger-striped
Legs kicking a nightmare would finally catch her
And she’d wake with a start, wobble over to me, shaking,
Clamber onto my chest and rest her face against mine,
Needing to be near me until the shadows of her past
Faded away for another night. I swear,
If I could go back in time, steal a TARDIS,
I’d find whoever made my beautiful, huge-hearted
Girl into the bag of broken glass that rested its head on my lap
While I made mosaics of Mars, stitched together images of Pluto
And Rosetta’s tumbling, crumbling comet
And break their teeth, make them limp,
Hack off whichever cruel hand they used to cut off
Her tail and laugh as they wailed.
Maybe somewhere in the Multiverse she lived a normal life,
Without that pain. I like to think so.
But I know she loved her time with us;
Loved being plucked off the ground and held
Against my chest, nestling under my chin; loved Riverdancing
On the pillow behind me at 4am, wowing “Now… Now…”
Again and again and again – a rude awakening two hours
Before I needed to be up; loved lapping water
From her shell-shaped cup, the only one she’d use;
Loved making me surrender every prawn or piece
Of chicken from every sandwich I ever tried to eat,
Leaving only bare, buttered bread behind for me;
Loved draping herself over my shoulder like a sash,
Eyes flashing, purring like a chainsaw; loved pushing away
My laptop screen when I really needed to write…
One memory shines lantern-bright:
Night falling at Kielder… a soft breeze whispering through
The northern wall of trees and her nested in my arms,
Only half awake, eyelids heavy, barely open
As we stood outside the tent.
No-one else around; the only sound the wind chime tinkling
Of the twinkling stars coming out above us and her soft breathing.
Already halfway to a dream, there was no fear on her face,
She was safe, at peace with me, bathed
In the light of a million distant suns as the turning of the Milky Way
Gently rocked her to sleep…
© Stuart Atkinson 2017