A Surprise - A Commonplace Book At My Vancouver Public LibraryMonday, April 20, 2015
My 17-year-old female cat Plata has become needy and possessive. She always wants to be on my lap or on Rosemary’s. She is hungry all the time and because of her age the cause is hyperthyroidism. She mews loudly when she wants her food. She drives me crazy but at the same time I see this in this way:
“Alex I am going to die soon. I will be out of your hair but until that time comes I want to share as much of what is left of my time with you.”
As I watch Rachel Maddow on TV with Rosemary and with Plata on my lap I think that this cat amply proves how we humans need human warmth and contact. Social networks will never provide any of us with that real warmth that transfers from my old Plata’s body onto mine.
All the above was reinforced by a recent trip to my Oakridge Branch of the Vancouver Public Library. For $6.00 I purchased in their reject bin (people also donate to this) a pristine set of film DVDs (7 of them) entitled the Stanley Kubrick Collection.
In the staff picks I found the Alex Guinness A Commonplace Book. In it was this poem by John Updike:
Another Dog’s Death
For days the good old bitch had been dying, her back
pinched down to the spine and arched to ease the pain,
her kidneys dry, her muzzle white. At last
I took a shovel into the woods and dug her grave
in preparation for the certain. She came along,
which I had not expected. Still, the children gone,
such expeditions were rare, and the dog,
spayed early, knew no nonhuman word for love.
She made her stiff legs trot and let her bent tail wag.
We found a spot we liked, where the pines met the field.
The sun warmed her fur as she dozed and I dug;
I carved her a safe place while she protected me.
I measured her length with the shovel’s long handle;
she perked in amusement, and sniffed the heaped-up earth.
Back down at the house, she seemed friskier,
but gagged, eating. We called the vet a few days later.
They were old friends. She held up a paw, and he
injected a violet fluid. She swooned on the lawn;
we watched her breathing quickly slow and cease.
In a wheelbarrow up to the hole, her warm fur shone.