she was a dumpster digger
of an undetermined age
a little strumpet left
to cruise the city streets
hurting fighting dirty

when a trumpet-playing hand
in the Salvation Army band
lifted her up from misery
took her to shelterland

“Hallelujah” was the name we
gave her when we took her home
we cleaned her double paws
we fed her fish and love and
just plain “Lulu” she became

not cute not pretty she is
small and oddly beautiful
a true fur person of droll
asymmetrical black markings
on a fluffy coat dull gold
strangely short-legged
with wise yellow eyes
mooting the question whether
felines really do have souls

since winter’s come she has
the job of watching snow

leaving her customary station
on the piano by the metronome
she jumps to a wide windowsill
as soon as flakes begin to fall

there she remains a sentinel
until snow stops she simply
stares quite statuesquely still

it’s harder now with getting old
yet there’s a grit about her
watching there—like a survivor
pondering a once-known time
or place where it was very cold

39 responses »

  1. Oh, what a poem !
    OF COURSE felines have souls: you know that very well. πŸ™‚
    Did you see Pike’s post ? –
    I know this is more tham watching … it’s just … equally wonderful. The two of you should get together: her post about the post, a couple of days after that one, might inspire you, Cynthia …

    • I did see that post, M-R, when you first alerted us to it…..wonderful. Cats are a ceaseless inspiration.

      And I have you to thank, as author of AND THEN LIKE MY DREAMS, for teaching me the word “moggy”. (It’s also a good rhyming companion for “doggy”!) πŸ™‚

      • It’s a very British word, that, Cynthia ! πŸ™‚ I remember my beloved sister Jo telling me about “a mad moonlight moggy”; but I don’t recall the origin of that wonderful phrase.

  2. I love this poem because it says so much about the psyche of a creature rescued, but also because it reminds me of my childhood, during which I often threatened to run away from home (I can’t believe I did so because I’m no drama queen πŸ˜ƒ) but was always so grateful on those cold and rainy nights that I hadn’t.

    • I like that you picked up on the psyche of a creature rescued……And oh that daring and allure of running away, in childhood. I was tempted more than once, but of course, chickened out every time, as evening fell. I wonder if my cat would like to run out there in the snow….maybe she thinks of running away? Nah, I doubt it.

  3. Fabulous picture painted here Cynthia. It reminded me of our long gone cat simply called Puss. He used to do the snow staring thing. These days we don’t have enough snow for them to be able to do it. And there is something extra beautiful in those little four legged ones when they have had a struggle. Such a lovely story that Hallelujah has a loving home.

    We have a piano and a metronome too. Not many people I know do. I can’t play now and the piano is really Ruth’s (youngest daughter) but she lives in a tiny cottage. When she can afford a bigger house the piano will go with her 😊

    • Glad to hear that snow-watching isn’t just an idiosynchrasy of this cat, Chris. Lulu is unusual in so many ways, I’m never sure. As I think of it, though, aren’t all cats un-usual in the sense that as soon as you think you can predict what they’ll do, they do something else?!!

      I think you’re right about the absence of pianos and especially metronomes in most homes now. I never had a metronome when I was learning piano. The one here belonged to my partner–it’s a beloved antique. From the very first, when Lulu came to live with us, she would jump up on the piano whenever I played. Now she hangs out there. between concerts and occasionally scares me to death by walking on some of the lower bass keys in the middle of the night!

      • Oh I can just picture that middle of the night scare! 😊 The two we have now have not “played” the piano as it’s now in a small room tucked away. Well actually it’s in a room we call the playroom that is for the little grandchildren and they play it about as well as the cat called Puss used to do. I have an old photo of Puss ‘playing’ the piano, that I showed an artist blogging friend and she surprised me by painting him and she sent it to me. It is now on our living room wall. I will take a photo of it and email it to you.! 😊

        • That’s a treat! Your email just came through. What a purr-fect painting! And I also enjoy the reflection of the photographer in the glass πŸ™‚ (there was an accompanying block that said “text” with no accessible text…right?)

          Thank you, Chris! [big smile]

  4. Funny how cats watch moving things with fascination, ready to pounce, whereas the minute a bird senses any sort of motion it flies like hell away. Symbiosis?
    Loved the poem–it speaks volumes appropriate to Valentine’s Day.

    • Time passing, and more snow in the forecast, John. Never mind the cat, I myself may soon be among the statuesquely still as I am watching blizzard-blown snow out there, in the sunshine, and listening to the roar of the wind. Lulu is asleep on the piano.

  5. Utterly delightful and a test for my UK English… for several verses I was chasing strange images, first a small, old um… what we would call a jcb or digger, then I thought she was human, then a dog… I’m a bit slow here. I love there way you read the poems too.

    • What a big smile you have given me, Hilary. Dumpsters, in the USA are those large, centrally located open bins that accommodate the garbage of cities, restaurants, apartment buildings, etc. Homeless people ( who dig in dumpsters) have been known to find palatable food there,(as well as the occasional murdered body!). Maybe “strumpet” made her human? She WAS walking the streets for a time; not sure she encountered any toms, she was still a kitten. Where the dog came from, I can only guess, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your comment, and I thank you!

  6. What could have been an ordinary scene, not noticed by the many who happened by, but you give us a peak into Lulu’s life from her soul-wrenching existence to the extraordinary for the lucky princesses of planet earth. That’s it Cynthia – we need to have you on a plane traveling the world delighting audiences near and far with your magical words!

    • I’ve loved that quotation from Bette Davis for some time now… thanks for reminding me of it again today. We have blizzard conditions here—high winds, snow blowing, a constant moan in the air, even as the sun is shining, blinding bright. And Lulu doesn’t give a rat’s…she’s asleep on my lap.

  7. My first image was of a young girl … then a stray dog … and finally a cat. Is this your cat’s pre-Cynthia history? Ours never watched the snow with Lulu’s intensity, but the stories they can tell of the things they’e seen from the window … such as the thieves who took the radiator from my car as it sat in the driveway.

    • Yes, this is the true odyssey of Lulu, as told to us by the folks at the shelter.

      You’ll forgive me, I hope, for laughing out loud at the image of your cat supervising the thieves in your driveway! πŸ™‚
      It reminds me of the time I locked myself out of the house, and climbed up on the bulkhead by the kitchen window, and smashed the glass to let myself in. My huge, so-called watchdog didn’t even bark once, but just stood there in the kitchen with his head cocked to one side as if to ask: why are you coming in THAT way, instead of the door?

  8. Wonderful poem!β™₯ And I love the way you’ve tied in the first and the last stanzas as she might be remembering her old former life – a snowy winter must have been very cold for a stray cat! How lovely that she loves to look at snow falling, I love it when animals show a little bit of human behaviour! I hope Lulu has many more years looking at snow, but staying in the cosy warm of course! πŸ™‚

  9. What a wonderful poem. I am always feline-inclined and an observer of the elderly cat. This poem rings so true.

    • Aren’t those critters so, so smart?…This one, in particular, is my constant delight. She’s 15, now, and in good health, but I really refuse to imagine life without her….

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