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In a Barn Cat's Hiss

St. Bruce of Cragswood

Cold, drizzly outside my October window, puddles in previously unseen ruts along the long shale drive, leaves near

death drooping from shagbark hickories

maples, oaks. Better to stay inside, wait

until the sun returns tomorrow or the next

day to walk into the stained glass autumn

nave, dappled reds, yellows, an orange halo

hanging over this quiet dead end road under

the cliffs, coyotes fisher cats groundhogs field

mice on the move regardless of weather,

creatures who know the unwritten scriptures

of the forest in their wet fur, on their tongues,

in their sharp teeth, beasts who live the golden

rule of survival in these non-denominational

woods, none claiming to know the one

way, the only way, to the water hole, the next

meal, a warm dry safe place for the night.


But I don’t stay inside. I bundle up against

the damp to offer what some call devotions

to this chilly pageant of confusion, breath and death

outside my window pane, wandering along

the curving drive to a rise among the pines,

stepping through mud, decomposing leaves, pine

needles, over wilted ferns, twigs, fallen limbs,

to the dog and cat graveyard, where, hands

in pockets, I reminisce with the pure souls all

around me: sweet Emma Duckdog, crazy Belle,

smelly Sandals, Gloria “Plumpy” Lewis, Sammy

the cat who would leap out from behind a tree

to scare little Elizabeth on her way to the bus,

every blessed one of them beneath my feet:

brilliant Janie, beautiful Azalea, Deion, stalker

of small beasts, nasty Rachel, purring on my lap

into her last breath, and though there is no stone

here for our mangy barn cat, missing teeth, part

of an ear, who never let us near, who passed into

mud all alone in these chilly unsanctified woods,

it is he I commune with today in this family

boneyard, St. Bruce of Cragswood, who kept his own

company, never betrayed a soul, even his own,

who told us through every warning hiss You can

feed me if you’d like, but you can’t be a saint

if you want to be a saint.

—SL, October 2022, New Paltz, NY

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03 nov. 2022

A bittersweet tribute to animals, pets, autumn, and to St. Bruce.

As an animal lover, thank you for this!

03 nov. 2022
En réponse à



21 oct. 2022

Thank you for this heart warming release and gentle nudge to "never [betray] a soul', even my own.

21 oct. 2022
En réponse à

Thank you so much, Bill!

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