December Nights

To Harrison Grace, the most human feline.

The first time we met,

You were sitting in a box.

Afraid,

Timid,

Overwhelmed,

As you well should have been.

 

But I lifted you out,

Cradled you in my arms,

And promised you I’d never make you feel that way

For as long as we lived.

 

That was ten years ago.

I was a young girl,

And you were quite young, too.

It was December

And we spent Christmas acquainting.

I learned you loved Christmas trees,

And playing hide-and-seek

Behind couches…

 

…Under couches.

 

You didn’t like strangers.

I didn’t, either.

So I would hide with you,

So you wouldn’t get lonely.

 

And we’d keep each other warm,

Those cold December nights.

 

You fell ill with a cough

You got from your old home,

And I devoted myself

To becoming your nurse.

I nestled you in bed,

And wiped your nose when you’d sneeze.

I gave you your medicine,

Which you hated;

Forcing you to stay still,

And not squirm,

As I injected the pink serum into your throat.

You would cry,

Run away in terror,

And I wouldn’t see you for a long time,

As you were angry with me

For betraying your trust.

But I needed to keep you healthy

So you could live your short life

Without your miserable little cough

Haunting you for years.

 

You forgave me in time,

And you recovered sublimely.

And it was soon back to hide-and-seek

And catch

And playing with your little toys

Like it had always been before.

 

Years passed

And we attached to each other

Like magnets.

We liked being alone,

We didn’t like others helping us,

We liked the quiet,

And the comfort of a book,

And a warm blanket.

We weren’t outdoorsy types…

Well, I stopped being one,

So you wouldn’t be lonely

And so we could cuddle under our blanket

And watch fluffy pets on Animal Planet

While you told me how they all looked familiar to you.

 

And all those times

The yearly doctor’s appointments beckoned

I would curse the day

I had to drag you outside

In the car

Listening to your crying on the way to the office,

The sun beating into your eyes,

The outside air making you feel trapped,

As you feared the foreign hands that would probe you

That weren’t mine.

 

But just like always,

We would return to our hovel,

And make a fort

To hide away from the world

That terrified us both.

 

You got stronger over the years

And could do many things for yourself

That I didn’t have to do for you anymore.

Your legs and arms grew,

Your body became muscular,

Your wits sharpened.

You spent many years at your peak,

Top of the pack,

Ready for the pounce

If the pounce needed readying.

 

But as your limbs grew,

Mine shrank.

As your body gained muscle,

Mine lost some.

And as your wits sharpened,

Mine grew hazy

And delirious.

Distracted.

You would come to my door,

And call out my name,

And receive no response

As I would lay in my bed,

Ashamed for you

Or anyone

To see me

In the state I was in.

 

Too long we went without cuddling.

You resorted to other arms to hold you,

Other hands to stroke your hair,

Other blankets to keep you warm

As I took all those things from you

Without your permission;

Only my own.

 

But you still came to my door

Planted yourself firmly outside,

A Furry Sentinel,

Hoping for a change.

 

An unbreakable devotion,

 

An eternal comrade.

 

It wasn’t too long until we were officially separated,

You secured in our house,

I summoned to the asylum.

And we were suddenly housed

Under two different buildings

In two different neighborhoods

In two different states.

 

The hospital room was a new kind of gray

That wasn’t the same darkness

You and I wrapped ourselves in together

In our blanket forts.

It was a gray that resembled a loss of life

Of spirit

Of love.

And it only reminded me of the gray that was surrounding you

Two buildings, two neighborhoods, and two states away.

My conditioned worsened without you near me

I stopped fighting for my life

Like you fought for yours

When we first met.

 

And then I looked at the door to my room

And I saw you

In the doctor’s arms

Being carried to me,

Plopped onto my bed;

You, in your majestic beauty

And your shiny green eyes

That I never saw as anything short of immaculate.

 

And you stayed with me for the long-term,

Never leaving my bed,

Curling back into my brittle arms,

Rubbing your face against mine,

Looking at me with your big eyes

Assuring me all was well,

That you were here,

That you would at least fight for my life.

 

You stood vigil at my bedside

You made sure I got my medicine

And my exercise.

You made sure I ate,

And when I didn’t,

You would scold me,

And I would do as you told me.

 

The hospital room grew so much less gray

When you pranced in.

 

But even that reduction of gray

Even your saving presence

Couldn’t save me.

I was selfish.

I terminated our friendship

Without your consent;

All out of fear

Of judgment

That you and I sheltered ourselves from anyway.

 

My heart monitor flattened one cold December morning,

Like a piercing scream to your ears

And you planted yourself in between my legs,

Curled in a ball,

And never left that spot.

Patients they brought in afterwards

Would have to find another room

For you wouldn’t budge

Even after my body became the earth.

They never changed the bed sheets

Because you wanted my smell on them

To surround you with.

You would growl

And hiss

And stab anyone who tried to move you.

 

They eventually closed the room to the public

Because the bed

Was the closest thing you had to me.

 

Me,

Who spent so long making sure you were okay,

That I forgot about the other body I had to monitor.

The one that only you seemed to care enough about;

 

My little guardian,

I can never say sorry enough,

So until you join me

Up here

I will be your big guardian

Who will keep you warm

On those cold December Nights.

The End

2 comments about this poem Feed