Written for this week’s Sunday Muse. Inspired by the image and a Swedish proverb – When the cat is gone the rats dance on the table. Meaning when the one in charge is gone, the subordinates do as they please.
I really needed something light and fun to write, so this was perfect. I recommend you to read Rob’s piece. It’s great fun!
Don’t react if they bully and tease. Turn your other cheek and say please. Don’t hit back! No one likes a girl who attacks. Don’t show you’re smarter than the boys. It will them only annoy. Don’t talk back to adults. Even if they are wrong it’s an insult. Don’t show you’re smarter than men. You’ll just be a bother again. Don’t speak up for anyone’s rights. They’ll just think you’re picking a fight. Don’t claim any self worth. What? Do you think it comes with birth? Don’t state your opinions. You’ll just get shun. Don’t stick out, it’ll break Jante’s law. Remember you’re just another bah, haha! Don’t pursue creative dreams. You might as well chase moonbeams. Don’t be a nuisance girl. Do you think you’re a precious pearl? Don’t be a disturbance. No one wants to see your brilliance.
Or.. Do the opposite of all that! Better be called a hellcat than live as a trampled doormat!
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.
There once was a striped cat. Sleeping peacefully in the sun on a doormat. When he was awakened by a man in cravat. Later he told me that, I should have been suspicious of the top hat. But frankly I thought he was playing an aristocrat.
They started to chitchat. About sunspots and why he preferred the taste of mice over rats. Then the man started to scratch his ears and his head pat. Before the cat knew what the man was aiming at. He felt himself squashed flat. He was trapped within a chapeau claque.
The man was an unskilled magician that, had promised a rich lady he could make a cat appear from his hat
Imagine the lady’s surprise when he produced her own sweet puss angry as a wildcat.
A dark stairwell. My cat meowing and howling in his box. The grownups swearing over the scratches they got when forcing him in. My mothers volatile mood. Grief flashing to rage, flashing to confused numbness flashing back to grief.
My aunts and uncles have strange whispering voices. Walking on eggshells. Afraid to do or say anything that reminds us. Like it’s possible to forget. Like it’s possible to step out of the endless loop of grief and confusion.
I did not understand. How could daddy just be gone forever? And who is that stranger looking out of my mother’s eyes?
Like a plucked flower A rootless child drifts astray Unseen and unloved
I’m one of those that might have opted out of this one, knowing the punch in some of my memories. Also knowing I do not have them all. Nearly everything before my fathers death, two months before my sixth birthday. And two months before my younger siblings birth. Are built up by photo albums and my mother’s stories. And those stories tended to shift over the years. Even today, if one of her children mentions a story she told us over, and over, and over again – only to be met with a blank stare and a totally new story.
Both of us have long ago lost the sense that we will ever know the truth. We have our own memories, as far back as they go. Beyond that we will never know.
And I, again, ended up with fragments so small I don’t know what the memory is about. And this memory, of the dark stairwell, in the house we’re moving out of just weeks after my father passed away.
I have no pictures of that time. But I do have this from what seems a happier time then I can remember.
As some noted last week I was suffering from lack of sleep. Then to make life even more fun, I grinded my teeth so bad that I broke a molar. So now I’m battling constant headaches and a pounding face while I wait for the antibiotics to take care of the infection so I can draw the tooth out…