What Missing the Cat Means

        —for Ian, my son, when Thai went away

It means something in nature hungered for change,
perhaps the cat, maybe his taker,
perhaps the circular soul of give and take, life and death.

Loss is a hole that forget-me-nots grow back around.
Loyalty is a beautiful gown of leaves
worn together for a season.
Then the pet will not so much leave you as go on.
Or change his form, invisible as wind
that blows far beyond a mere nine lives.

We sweep the floor where his shed white fur
almost forms him whole again.
He is still in our gravity
in the snake’s or the hawk’s eye.
His taker has taken on his white shadow,
his night vision, and among the crickets
his purr and soft rubbings.

You will always have him,
though you must seek him beyond this moment’s void.
Keep his touch to warm your room
but look out across these whiskers of grass,
let him hunt there in a greater self.

Love that holds is less than love that frees,
but you may keep the gift
of knowing that whatever his form,
he’s moved by your gentle rain, still feels
your hands softly along his rainbowed back.

Robert S. King. First published in The Sow's Ear Poetry Review