by Miriam Sagan
Abandoned on a garbage dump,
My mother adopted it
In a fit of coming and going kindness.
But then we left for the weekend,
Boarded the kitten at the vet.
By the time we returned, he could not stand or eat.
My father, the Freudian, diagnosed
Acute maternal abandonment,
Nursed the kitten back to health
By grooming him for hours
With a warm damp washcloth
And spoon-feeding him baby food from a jar.
These stories make us seem compassionate
But really we were the usual checkerboard
Of kindness and self-engrossment.
Still, the cat grew into a large tiger-stripe named Dylan.
In later years he had friends,
Two other orange cats who’d come
And wait for him on the back porch.
My sister called them “the orange cat club”:
One had three legs, the other lacked an eye,
And Dylan—for him
Bi-polar would have been an understatement
In describing his lifelong erratic behavior.
They’d slink out, three orange cats in the night,
Tigers bleached by moonlight till they blended
Into grass and shadow.
Copyright © 2001 by Miriam Sagan.