Friday, May 25, 2007
The Old One speaks
Gather up close now and I will begin.
I was born in a box in a house in St Davids. My mother was a farm cat my father a Siamese, sleek and beautiful, and we were three ginger and one black and white. For a while all we knew was the circle of warmth and the milk of our mother. As we grew bigger we explored further and then one day She came and took us, closed in a dark box, my brother and I, to this house.
At first we were scared, but there were children who loved us and we curled in Her studio, warm from the sun, wrapped around each other while She painted and made colours dance on paper.
We would walk up the hill with her, two bundles of fur, weaving our way through jungles of long grass. She called him Arthur, named from the sleeping king of all Britain, ancient and wise. Me, she called Martha.
And so we lived happily and grew and walked with her until one day a shadow flew low over the field and swooped and twisted around us. I was afraid, then and I ran. It was a bird, a buzzard, wide winged and ragged, searching for rabbits along the flower filled hedgerows.
After that I seldom walked, but Arthur continued to follow whenever she went. Sometimes he would visit the man who lived next door, who was lonely, and he would walk over the hill with him, keeping him company. Together they would visit the ruined cottages and talk with the ghosts of the people long gone, and Arthur would talk to the ghosts of the cats. Then as the evening light fell they would walk home together in quiet companionship.
For years we lived this life. Arthur was a hunter and would bring home rabbits, sometimes as big a himself. No rat would come near when he was around for he was sharp of tooth and claw. Then one day the man from next door brought him home. He was limp as a rag, still warm. It seemed that one of the cars that come so seldom had hit Arthur, driven away, didn't even notice.
There was a weeping in the house that night. She buried him in the garden beneath slate sand stone, a head of a lion carved from golden rock. Curled around as if a sleep, still purfect, with the golden sun caught in his ginger coat.
All night we sat and watched and waited, Bird, the black cat, Max and I.
In the morning we heard the cry of the buzzards high above and we joined our song with their lament. And it was then that I knew. The buzzards are the souls of the cats. We wish for wings. The buzzards mew with a cry like a cat and their eyes are amber and their claws are sharp.
Now when I see a buzzard I am no longer afraid for I know that Arthur is with them.
And so I walk again.