Tuesday, February 8, 2011


for Louise and Morgan

Dangerous to love things that perish

but cowardly not to.

You weren’t just a cat.

You were Morgan.

You were

as when I first saw you as a kitten

cupped in Louise’s hands

a cloud

a whiff of incense


a breath

a gust of stars

someone in love had breathed out.

And we loved you.

And now you’re dead.

And there are two more people in the world

who can’t stop weeping.

Because there is no now

in the suddenness of death

and it’s colder in our hearts than it is outside

because your absence

like your body

doesn’t have a temperature anymore.

And there’s a dagger of darkness

that’s thrust through everything

as if God were an assassin

in some kind of video killing game

that put black holes to shame.

Or is it just the impersonality of life

that it seems to derive a cheap thrill

from killing the things it creates

without knowing their names?


Got it.

Morgan the Cat.

A work of genius.

And you’d be a whole lot wiser than you are

not to forget it

because she was a goddess in her own rite.

She was the auroral shapeshifter

that was born a kitten

but grew up to be more than a human

because we always wished

we had more of her characteristics

than the ones we had as a superior species

and we worshipped her

and paid her the attentive kind of tribute

that was and is the natural due of her magical virtues.

And Morgan though it’s doubtful you can hear us now

where you can breathe easy out in the open

like the cool breeze you always were

among the wildflowers that look like stars

and copulate with Orion

the only cat who ever loved you back

as much as you like

without any one throwing cold water on it

because humans have learned to live like prophylactics

we want you to know somehow in some mysterious way

our species hasn’t discovered yet

how much you did to improve our innocence

by watching you live your life

as if you were born

knowing how to live

and didn’t have to work at it as we do.

You were tenderness with claws.

A female buddha with the eyes of a warrior

that were the envy of the moon.

A boddhicatva who didn’t answer to anyone

if you can forgive a bad pun

but showed us the way in

to the feline felicity of a paradise

that was as open as space to everyone.

You were the embodiment

of an affection and gentleness

that lingered like smoke in the air

above the cat’s eye flame of a candle

that God just blew out.

And the stars mourn as we do so deeply

even the darkness is panicked

that it will be turned inside out

like an absolute certainty from an absolute doubt.

There’s a blackhole in the heart of the light

that can’t be eclipsed by insight

and the reality of you in your flesh and your fur

no longer sitting by us on the floor

listening in with your eyes closed

as if even when you were sleeping

your ears were always awake

is a wound so deep

a rip in the sky so irreparable

that nothing that pours out of it by way

of tears and stars

thoughts or feelings

though blood pour from our eyes

could ever be worthy of it.

Thank-you for the love

that always fell into our laps like you.

Like an unexpected reward

for just being us.

Thank-you for teaching us

how to love you unconditionally

and knowing like a quiet healer

just when to apply your presence

like a soothing herb

to the hurts and fevers that afflicted us.

Sad and alone in the dead zone of an unanswerable room

you’d rub your tiny skull

with its walnut sized brain

against my leg

and I’d realize

that it was you not me

with my three and a half pounds of neocortical starmud

for all the lightyears I’ve been searching

that had found the philosopher’s stone

the moment you opened your eyes as a kitten

and you could work miraculous transformations

with the slightest touch of affection

or the nudge of a small wet nose.

When even God and Lucifer couldn’t move me

if they were to try and change my mood

you could

as easily as Morgana la Fay moved Merlin

with her felicity for emotional alchemy.

So many times when all I thought I could do

to save the situation

was let go

you flowed like water around my legs.

Sometimes it takes a river

to remind the bridge

what it stands for

and keep its spirits up.

Sometimes the thread of life

passes through the eye of a needle

like light

in the form of a cat

and the rip in the sky

where all the stars were pouring out

is patched up

with a single act of seeing

when a cat looks at you a moment

and then closes its eyes in contentment

like the new moon in the old moon’s arms.

You were Louise’s child.

You followed her around like a third eye

that could see into the future

like the front door you sat beside for aeons like a sphinx

waiting for her to come home

with the blue bag of salmon-flavoured cat treats.

I never saw you as her shadow.

You were more

a mirror with a mind of your own

that could look deeply into her spirit

and see your own reflection.

You were her affable familiar.

Her talismanic charm

against the obscenity of human lovelessness.

Her emergency exit.

Her fire alarm.

You were the whiff of smoke that woke her up.

If she were the long hard art

of learning how to be mastered by love.

You were the discipline

waiting on the other side of the door

that made her trudge to the store in the snow

to be sure you got your treats.

And when she returned

you’d study everything going on in the room

as if you were looking at it all for the first time

but the more I looked at you looking at us

the more I realized

you weren’t the student

you were a school

that compassionately exempted fools like us.

And now sweet one

what is it

that you want us to learn

from your perpetual absence?

As you once sweetened our lives

are you now trying

to sweeten death?

Are you trying to teach us how to see in the darkness?

To let go of our grief

as if that weren’t the only thing we had left to hold on to?

The silence in the house is a lot lonelier

for the lack of your whisper

to confide in

like a secret you kept to yourself

when no one else was home.

The birds and the windows keep waiting

for you to jump up at them any moment now

but it’s beginning to dawn on them you can’t anymore

and it isn’t just the rain

that’s making the glass cry.

Who’s going to stare at the plaster for hours

like Bodhidharma meditating in his cave

listening to the baby squirrels

learning to crawl through the walls

now that you’re not sitting there

tense as an archer

and as attentive as a Zen master?

You had a C-spot under your neck

close to your jugular

that could make you purr

when anyone pampered it like Cleopatra.

Now who’s going to know how

wherever you are

to make you stretch your claws out

like crescents of the moon

and make the green honey of your eyes

ripen into gold?

There’s a darkness in the heart of grief

that burns like a black fire

all these tears can’t seem to put out.

It’s a measure of the love you inspired in us

that we’d rather let the pain of missing you

consume us in the flames

of remembering

some tender eccentricity of your cathood

even in the midst of trying to let life

get on with us without you

than ever let death make you a stranger to us.

You were Bast the Egyptian cat goddess among us in the flesh.

We learned to read your eyes like a Druidic Ogham

like phases of the moon as it waxed and waned.

One glance and I knew what you wanted.

You were a rose with retractible thorns

and we’d watch you for hours

wondering what you were dreaming

under your twitching eyelids.

And the tenderness that people are afraid

to expose to each other

because they haven’t learned to walk through life skinless

we showed to you

without feeling that even the slightest gesture of it

was ever wasted

or unreturned

or that the spirit didn’t recognize its own

whether it was embodied by a cat or a human.


you’re among the stars now

like a gust of light on the road of ghosts

like a hurricane that found rest in the eye of it own turbulence

like a cat-muse among these words

that can feel you watching them like birds

from your perch in the cosmic window

at the foot of the bed in Louise’s room.


though there’s this black hole

your absence has left in the middle of everything

it’s not an exit.

It’s an entrance.

It’s the way you taught us

how to diminish the darkness

by growing bigger eyes

to get the most light out of it

even when we think

as we do now

that there’s nothing left

in this starless night

that could shine.

That the winds of time

have swept the last of the blossoms away

like phases of the moon

and even our tears

are the one-way tides

of the heart-numbing farewells

the whole of our lives seem.

Did we have the dream

or did the dream have us

or is it only the nightmares

that wake up screaming out in their sleep somewhere

where the pillows are wet

and the mothers come running

to reassure them

that what they thought they saw in the dark

was not real?

It was just another human

summoning some lost joy from the past

like the ghost of a watershed

that keeps recalling things

as if it were alone at night in a dark museum.

But an abyss isn’t just an abyss.

It’s also a fountain.

Everything reveals its emptiness

in the fullness of life

like the depth of the valley

is revealed by the height of the mountain.

The sweet brief life of the blossom

is the bright vacancy

rooted in the dark abundance

of the indelibility of the way we change.

To be here once

should be enough

to prove to anyone

that they’ve been here forever.

Life leaves signs

that anyone can follow back to themselves

like leaves on the mindstreams of their flowing.

They had to let go of the tree like maps

to know which way they’re going.

It’s the same with humans and cats.

Life breathes on the ashes of the starstreams

and everything starts glowing

like the eyes of a cat in the dark.


it hurts not to see you

mesmerized by the turning water in the toilet-bowl

or sleeping in the bottom of the tub

or the end of my bed

or across the top of the easy chair

like a strategic adornment

keeping one ear open

to everything that was going on around you?

It hurts to wonder

what Louise is going to use for an alarm clock now

that you’re not there

to lick her eyelids awake in the morning

and where are the candles

where are the plants

that could ever take your place in the windowsill

watching for her to come home

as if you were one of the streetlamps?

Sometimes it’s hard to know

which hurts worse.

Never to have known love

or realize at times like this

how vast and excruciating the abyss is

how sad and foregone

the sad effusions of sorrow

the begrudging smiles of acceptance

that feel like the scars of an assassin

who doesn’t know who to get even with

when even the least atom of something we’ve truly loved

like the cosmic beginning of everything

in large and small

in the petty and profound alike

in the mystical and the earthbound

in what is different and what is not

in the star and the candle and the phoenix and the firefly

in Louise and her cat

is extinguished.

Morgan yes

you’ve left a hole in the light

as big as the universe

and all the stars are pouring out of it

as if the light could cry

for the passing of your radiance

but Morgan

no more than the pupil of an eye

blocks the light from getting in

does the hurt of your death

qualify the dangerous rapture

of having loved you in this life

as well as we knew how to love anything.



We’re all on the same journey

though sometimes we change bodies

like forms and shoes along the way

or walk barefoot awhile on stars

along the Road of Ghosts

talking to shoeless angels

about how mysterious it is

that every step of the way

where we come from

is where we’re going

and it’s not the destination

but the journey itself

that enshrines what is most sacred about life.

Not the arrival.

Not the fulfillment.

Not the completion.

Not the consummation that exhausts us wholly

and leaves us beseeching heaven

or pleading with emptiness

for a clarification of death

like the air we breathe out

leaves us longing for breath.

Our beginnings go on forever without end

and Morgan like you

if we wind up chasing our tails around

it’s only because of the great delight we take

in knowing nothing’s ever over

and everything is looping

like a snake with its tail in its mouth

or the horizontal eight of eternity

that keeps falling over

like a Bodhidarma doll

and righting itself like spectacles

worn by someone lying down

whose eyes go vertical

whenever they’re dreaming.

It’s not the farewell of the guest

but the welcome of the host

that we treasure most.

It’s not the finding

but the seeking

that’s the jewel of our quest.

That’s why you stuck your nose into everything

and learned to see with your ears

and hear with your eyes

the wings of the stars and fireflies

that hovered just outside your window

when what was always wild about you

answered the Zen savagery of the night

like an austere summons to life.

Morgan you’re gone

but there’s no imperative

in why you had to go.

No harsh god.

No assassin cloaked in light.

No doors close

our senses and our hearts

to the earthly delights of loving you.

No gates open

like a cats’ eyes

that will not see us return like insight

to the faces of the living creatures

we live to behold in our own features

and touch most gently.