Wednesday, August 17, 2016


When I was a child I had a cat.
Her name was Mishew.
We played cat games.
I chased her down the long hallway
of our train-like apartment
the way I now chase my inner joy.
Then she chased me.
I gave her little treats off my plate.  
We slept together.
We loved each other.

When my grandmother threatened to "get rid of her" 
if she didn't stop scratching at the drapes, 
I cried.  Mishew stayed.
One day, when I got home from school, Grandmother said
Mishew had to move to the basement.
She was going to have a baby.
She had several -
the tiniest, cutest kittens imaginable.
I visited them as often as allowed. 
I loved them too
until the grownups told me Mishew had eaten them.

I went to the basement where Mishew, wishing
she could speak, meowed so loud. 
She looked at me with pleading big brown eyes.
But I had been betrayed. 
I thought she was a good cat.
I was wrong.
She committed this vile crime.

I don't know what ever happened to Mishew. 
I never saw her again.  
I've chosen never to live with a cat again,
or love one.

Today I question the lesson in this.
But a life examined only produces more questions.
When did Mishew go out to procreate?
Did grandmother love Mishew just a little bit?
Did Mishew really eat her kittens?

What was truth?
Is it possible I've avoided, disliked cats based on a lie?
What other prejudices do I harbor, 
believing untruths 
that curtail my love?
How much of myself will I never know?

Perhaps to be human is to live a riddle.
Perhaps my answer is:
I need to love another cat.

(For Poets United.)


  1. Wow! That corridor of questions and truths! I remember when my Dad told me he had to "take our cat to the farm." I learned years later that death had been its fate! Your memory of the cat's mournful eyes speaks volumes. People lie, but never cats. How long does it take us to learn that?

  2. Wow, Myrna, this is very deep. From the look on Mishew's face, I would bet money the kittens were otherwise disposed of. Back then, animals were treated rather cavalierly by the older generation. I love "the way I now chase my inner joy", and the philosophical questions - how we believe untruths that curtail our love. LOVE the closing line which reminds me how Gandhi told the man who had lost his boy in the civil fighting, to adopt a boy from the opposite sect and raise him as his own, in order to heal. Amazing how deep a cat poem can go. This was a privilege to read.

  3. untruths that curtail love are always so heartbreaking...but you have the right answer to the riddle that life is :)

  4. Cats are excellent mothers, so if Mishew ate her kittens, she was insane. I would refer you to James Herriott’s “The Christmas Day Kitten.” If you get a cat, you might consider an adult because kittens do best with another young cat—or, better yet—another kitten in the home, just as human children do. Of course, if you have lots of time, it’s not a hard and fast rule. Since you haven’t had a cat for a long time, perhaps some adoption agency would give you a week’s trial. That’s what we’re doing with our new girl kitten because we didn’t know how our two grown male cats would accept her. So far, things are going beautifully, but we really appreciated the trial period.

  5. adults tell alot of "story" thinking they are sparing the child. I think the truth is easier.
    You aren't the only one told a tall tail.

  6. Wow! to what level you have lifted us readers; with this simple tale of loving a pet.

    Thanks for dropping in to read mine

    much love...

  7. The last verse feels very redemptive.. I think I agree that story can become truth and perhaps both the pain and joy of adulthood is finding a truth we can believe and live with - and yes, love a cat again!

  8. Truth however hard is always better than untruth. That attempt at protecting you has stayed with you all your life but you guessed the truth so now definitely get the cat you want. This is a wonderful piece of writing.

  9. It is said that cats are not affectionate. My experience ( of course ) is the exact opposite. You can learn a lot from cats.

    1. Could you share a few things that cats have taught you?

  10. Deep, profound and unsettling. I have some extreme reservations about poor Mishew, but I am a confirmed cat lover.

  11. Oh my gosh...I would find it hard to believe the cat ate her children. I do think there is another explanation & I don't like thinking about it!

    I was not a fan of cats as a child because my mother was deathly afraid of them, and I ended up not liking them because I kind of took on her attitude. Then I turned out being very VERY allergic to them, which also did not help. I still am. But I have mellowed in my cat-ittude now really & do understand that many like them as much as I like dogs. But, oh, this poem of yours IS filled with questions indeed.

  12. I cannot imagine she ate those kittens. Yes, it may be time to love a cat again.


  13. But would you be able to love another cat or would you always be scarred by that early experience? I think, if you seriously consider it, it would be best to spend some time petting and talking to cats in shelters before committing yourself. Those cats need some loving visitors while waiting to find homes, and it would enable you to test yourself harmlessly. It certainly is a harrowing story, effectively told!

    1. Going to shelters "just to pet the kitties" is why we just got our third cat.

  14. Hmmm, it really makes a strong case for spaying or neutering cats if one intends for them to be around and not to have kittens that will be put to death. If one has a cat with kittens, they should be put into good homes...