Sunday, December 13, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"In Memory of Our Cat, Ralph"

When we got home, it was almost dark.
Our neighbor waited on the walk.
"I'm sorry, I have bad news," he said.
"Your cat, the gray-black one, is dead.
I found him by the garage an hour ago."
"Thank you," I said, "for letting us know."
We dug a hole in the flower bed
With lilac bushes overhead,
Where this cat loved to lie in spring
And roll in dirt and eat the green
Delicious first spring bud,
And laid him down and covered him up,
Wrapped in a piece of tablecloth,
Our good old cat laid in the earth.
We quickly turned and went inside
The empty house and sat and cried
Softly in the dark some tears
For that familiar voice, that fur,
That soft weight missing from our laps,
That we had loved too well perhaps
And mourned from weakness of the heart.
A childish weakness, to regard
An animal whose life is brief
With such affection and such grief.
If such is weakness, so it be.
This modest elegy
Is only meant to note the death
Of one cat so we won't forget
His face, his name, his gift
Of cat affection while he lived,
The sweet shy nature
Of this graceful creature,
The simple pleasure of himself,
The memory of our cat, Ralph.

--Garrison Keillor


Brosreview said...

Ah, this is so touching. You reminded me of us burying our Alsatian, Rocky and my friend's German Shepherd - Sheeba.

Judith Ellis said...

Ajey - There is such love and care here. For me, this is inspiring and "so touching" indeed.

Judith Ellis said...

There is also such reverence and rememberance. This to me is beautiful.

Haddock said...


Judith Ellis said...

Yeah, I thought so too, Haddock. Good to have you. Do pass through again.

Strawberry Girl said...

That is so beautiful Judith, I am touched. I had an old black cat named Spooky. He was a good friend, always knew when I needed him. :)

Judith Ellis said...

SG - Isn't it beautiful that our pets know when we need them most? This is what also makes this poem so heartfelt.

Patty - Why Not Start Now? said...

Hi Judith - Thanks for posting this. You've combined two of my favorite things: cats and Garrison Keillor. I have had and lost some all time great cats, and this poem is beautiful and touching. And just last night, my husband and I were musing about Garrison Keillor, wondering what it would be like to spend Christmas at his house. We figured it would be a grand time. One of our high points together: seeing his show on a cold November night in St. Paul.

Judith Ellis said...

Hi Patty - I'm delighted you appreciate the post. Oh, I would love to hear Garrison Keillor live. I will have to make a special trip to do so for sure. Always good to have you here. Popping over to your blog now.

Corrie Howe said...

Nice tribute to his cat.

Judith Ellis said...

Yes, Corrie. It's a wonderful tribute. For me, it goes well beyond his cat to embrace loss generally.

septembermom said...

I love the line "the simple pleasure of himself". When hearts are touched, you can't turn off your emotion in a moment. Touching poem. Thank you Judith.

Judith Ellis said...

Pleasure, Kelly. Hope all is well, my friend.

wmmbb said...

Sorry to hear about Ralph. You sadness is understandable. It is not weakness it is connection.

Best wishes

wmmbb said...

Oops must have been off visiting Lake Wobegone without realizing it. So it is Garrison Kellor's cat, right.

Have you had any further thoughts of getting a dog, Judith?

Judith Ellis said...

Yes, wmmbb, I have thought of getting a dog often since we last spoke. But every time I think of doing so I think of the responsibility and my time that I don't move forward. I would really have to be there for my dog and I wondered if I would be. As I'm not traveling as nearly as much as I used to I think I would be there for my dog. Maybe, I'll get a dog in January. Of course, there is still the kind of dog and whether to purchase it from a shelter. I have looked online for shelter dogs and have made a few calls when I first began the search. I think next year will be the year. I know you have more than one dog and I enjoy your weekly posts about your walks with them.