Danny was my stepfather.  March 15 marked six years since he died.  He and my mother had been divorced for some time when he left us for good, but I remained attached to him.  He was the first person to openly encourage me to write, to never stop writing.  We shared a love of books, though our tastes differed.  We also shared a love of nature, quiet reflection, and a love of animals.

The last thing I did for Danny was to bring his cat Pan to a new home.  As an older cat he never would have been adopted from a shelter.  Even though Pan was going to a good home, it still broke my heart.  He had been alone with Danny’s body for at least two days when the police did their well person check.  From the other side of the door, they could hear Pan wailing and crying.  He wailed and cried during the hour long ride to his new home.  I would have have taken him if not already at my apartment lease’ two cat limit.

Before I drove away that day, I looked down on the lake below, the green around me.  Buds were actually starting to pop out on the trees, there was a bit of sun peeking out between clouds.  Danny’s wind chimes sounded in the breeze.  I was glad he had lived his final days in such a place of peace.  On his terms.  Surrounded by what mattered to him.

A bit over a year ago I had poem published that I wrote about him, a product of a poetry workshop.  I had not written a poem in over 20 years when I stepped into that class, but soon found that my ability and love for it had not left me.



for Danny

I followed the flower seeds

past the ax and over the carpet

of bark and splinters

to fetch the cat

to his new home.

I heard his cries even before

I opened the door

and breathed that smell

that lingered

between wood smoke

and squalor.  I could not take it in,

how you were gone

and still there—

in the pile of clothes,

your leather pack,

the bits of egg in the pan,

and the mass of sheets

on the mattress     on the floor.

When the clot broke free

I imagine you collapsed

on that spot of red

and I suppose

the cat’s keening started then,

but I wonder if

he licked and kneaded

you who were there     and not there.

I wept     as I thought of

how you left us—

alone, drowning in your lungs,

the chimes outside

blowing in the March wind.


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