My cat knows when I am upset.
I don't think this means she's psychic.
what I mean is
I think that all cats are a little bit off
if you know what I'm talking about
and if you don't
well, sorry then.
But she has sat and guarded me while
I slept the mornings away
and she watches me when I'm in the bathtub
and she gets as close to my back when I work as possible
and occasionally groom whatever is closest to her
as the idea strikes.
She is afraid of thunderstorms.
I only noticed a few weeks ago because it was thundering
and I realized I couldn't find her anywhere.
I searched around, mildly disconcerted as I walked the floors of my home
without tripping over a large aggressively friendly animal
and found her hiding under the table, letting out some
terrifyingly angry growls.
Because I have no dignity or sense of self preservation
I crawled under there and sat with her for a while.
The first time I saw her, it was through a cage door
and it was only her front legs, which she had reached all
the way out of to sink her very sharp claws into my upper shin.
She drew blood.
It was love at first sight.
When you love someone (something?)
you should sit with them when they are in pain
or scared or angry.
In the last few weeks,
my cat Evangeline
(I'm pretty confident that she does not think this is her name.
It alternates between 'darling' and 'you fucking cat'
because I am an asshole)
has done her best to not leave my side, even when the shower is turned on
as hot as it can go and the music is up too loud
she sits and waits.
Once though, she looked at me and her whole body poofed out
her tail looked like it was twice the natural size and
her eyes were huge.
I felt my stomach drop out- I was just shampooing my hair
nothing she hasn't seen me do a million times
and she looked terrified and angry,
like she could see an angry and evil alien wrapped up in my hair
but she held her ground and stayed.
I turned off the music and watched her more closely that evening and
her tail stayed poofy that night.
I worry that she can see my ghosts.
That can't be good for anyone.
But she persists in living her life pressed up against the lines of
my arms and legs and forever trying to steal my iced tea
and carrying around little plastic balls in her mouth
so she jingles when she walks.
She has a stash of straws under my bed.
She doesn't believe in solitary bathroom trips
or that there isn't any space between my lap and laptop.
She insists on sleeping in ALL of the sinks
and in my bed with me if I am in it.
She lets me clip her claws so they don't sink into my flesh
and I feed her and occasionally share my tuna with her.
She's soft as a bunny
you had flowers in your mouth the day I met you
It turns out they were oleanders
not magnolias like I assumed
the poison was masked
by the incessant decadence and I am not omniscient
or really even that observant it turns out.
I promise I would have ripped them out of your mouth
if I had known.
If I had wondered
I would have dragged you to a hospital
watched you throw up and not looked away
for even a moment
told you that you are so beautiful
so fucking vital to the world
and then walked with you until you could take the oleanders out
and replace them with magnolias.
Oleander is common in Texas and California and I worry
about where you found it
but magnolias also grow here
and they are not poisonous.
They are big and hardy and prized for their sweet smell
and are apparently part of the coffee family
which I did not know and I'm sure a fact you would have appreciated
were you here to hear it.