Cat Searching High and Low


I opened the chest with spare linens today
In it was the old blanket Puck the cat loved
I must not have washed it after he passed away
Because directly came Pika to sniff and purr
As if drawn by years old scent
Her body language telling me she wouldn’t be deterred

Later she searched all over the house and yard
As if wondering where he were
Demanding entry to places she’s normally barred
I let her into both closet and storage shed
Letting her do her futile search
Knowing the longing singing in her head

It’s like when I come upon traces of my father
A photo, his name in a book
His old faded shirt I still have in a drawer
And my heart instantly fills with that old sorrow
Prompting me to search to make sense of the loss
Knowing whatever I do, he won’t be there tomorrow

Now Pika and I sit gazing through the window
I scratch her ear, she settles on my lap as the sun fades
We both know however much the wind blows
Our longing for a lost one will still be there tomorrow
Ready to awaken at a sight or whiff
Piercing our hearts anew like an arrow


I read the Poetics: The Print the Whales Make prompt at dVerse. And knew directly about what I would write. Even so the sorrow still hurts. But it also feels good to share it, something I was never allowed to do as a child. I first wrote “strangely feels good”, until I realized grief is something that’s supposed to be alleviated by sharing. 

So instead, let me say how intensely grateful I am to finally found a way to share it, and people who don’t shy away because I do.

Puck lying in the book I’m reading.

12 thoughts on “Cat Searching High and Low

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  1. This is incredibly moving, I so love the sensitivity with which you have penned this beautiful poem. Especially; “As if wondering where he were,
    demanding entry to places she’s normally barred, I let her into both closet and storage shed, letting her do her futile search knowing the longing singing in her head.” Sigh. 💝

  2. Damn this is moving — downright heartbreaking! It made me miss both my Edgrrr, so very recently deceased, and my son Aaron, from the loss of whom, I never will fully heal. I have had a couple poetry cry’s today.

  3. Even now, 12 years later, I find myself thinking, when I go to Brandon Park shopping centre ‘Oh, I should buy some candies for Mum’, because that was the centre on the way to her nursing home. She’s been gone 12 years, and the habit is still there, as is the momentary stab of grief.

  4. I’m pleased you feel able to share a poem so touching and full of sorrow, and painful to write, Helene. I really feel the words in the title, which remind me of the way my cat Luna searched for her mother, Tosca, after she died, and I love the way your poem begins as a description of Pika’s behaviour and then merges with your own reactions. I have tears as I type this. I was moved by the simple things that moved you, your father’s name in a book and the old faded shirt, and ‘knowing he won’t be there tomorrow’. What I love most about this poem is the final stanza, the togetherness of human and cat in their loss.

  5. 😢 sorry for the loss of your dear friend! So tragic, that searching for something we know we won’t find. When my mum died, for a little while, I still kept expecting her to walk through the door. Same when a beloved cat died, I kept listening for her purr. But you’re right, in sharing we can alleviate the pain a little.

    ‘Pika’ in Slovenian means ‘dot/spot’ – does it mean something like that in Swedish?

  6. it is just amazing how a smell can take you back. i lost my granfather in 1981 and the smell of sombody smoking his tobacco takes me back to his side sat in front of his fire. great poem

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