Four Days Gone

Memphis come back...
Memphis, come eat…

Vines poke their tendrils through the soffit vents and under the doorways in the Valley.  Spiders and dust slip the gap in the screen. Shade trees drop leaves like drunkards, covering the patio the day after you clean it. Rats chew their way into the walls, bed down in the insulation and gnaw on the ceiling rafters.   Ants march across countertops to find the drop of maple syrup you spilled at breakfast. While you watch Game of Thrones nature is forever reaching into your house, reasserting claims.

You hear cat stories from people, how they disappear for a week and then walk back in the door as though nothing happened.  That’s never happened to us.


Our deal with Memphis was he was free to wander the neighborhood as long as he reported in by dark.  He rusticated under bushes. He slithered over fences and onto neighbors patios. He lolled in the middle of the street, swishing his tail, waiting for cars to come around the corner. He galumphed up and down the block greeting tradesmen and head-butting teenage slackers.  The normal rules of cat tragedy were forever in abeyance. A hundred and nine lives he enjoyed. On our return from the evening walk we would hear the tinkle of his collar as he fell into step behind us.  Sometimes he took sport in making Mrs. U chase him down, gather him into her arms, and carry him back to the house over her shoulder while he kneaded his claws into her shoulder.


On the second morning after Memphis didn’t report,  I woke to Trixie pacing the roof.  She stood at parade rest over my bedroom window, alert, staring toward the end of the block, as though sniffing his return.


It was not to be. The urban forest had extracted its claim on our house.

7 thoughts on “Four Days Gone”

  1. What, no note? Perhaps, Memphis would have wrote, “Dad, if mom is worrying about me, tell her sorry, but I gotta go see about a girl.”

  2. Sorry to hear about Memphis. I wonder if it was a Coyote, also given Trixie’s behavior. Hope not the case, & he returns.

  3. On the Death of a Cat

    by Franz Wright

    In life, death
    was nothing
    to you: I am

    willing to wager
    my soul that it
    simply never occurred

    to your nightmareless
    mind, while sleep
    was everything

    (see it raised
    to an infinite
    power and perfection) — no death

    in you then, so now
    how even less. Dear stealth
    of innocence

    licked polished
    to an evil
    luster, little

    milk fang, whiskered


  4. My heart is broken.
    I know how hard it is to not know what happened. But I think it is easier to not bear witness to tradgedy. You will see him in your dreams and in the shadows. Your comfort is the love you had, and still have forever.
    I’m so sorry.

Comments are closed.