Sometimes meditation is taking my cat for a walk in the morning before it gets too hot,
watching her sniff every fern frond,
simultaneously alert to dozens of different bird songs,
feeling the sun on her fur,
blinking into the intensity of unscreened light,
climbing as far up the tree as her leash will allow.

She seems to trust I will pull back on the harness only to keep her safe —
from whatever unknown lurks under the house,
from ick behind the garbage cans,
from cars that race through neighborhood streets more concerned with saving minutes than lives.
She examines the waterdropped threads of spiderwebs, each hovering insect.
The tiniest of butterflies, the first victim of her pounce.

When we first took these walks she startled at everything,
but she’s gotten used to the sounds of this outside world,
our backyard covered in Clover and Ivy,
shaded by the tree that makes sticky white berry clusters.

It takes patience to walk a cat,
to pause as often and as long as she does.
And then you realize her animal obsession with the cats next door –
the strays we cannot see but she can smell –
is the same nature that inclines you
to keep thinking of him
even though you cannot have him.

She looks to me for permission to play with a worm,
finally a real living thing that moves on its own
not like her toys where she has to force the action.
But then it works its way into the soil
and she doesn’t understand this cruel magic that sucks up worms.
She sniffs the soil furiously, shuffling under the leaves with her claws,
agitated at the injustice.
What else might be down there,
what treasures in the world she never before thought to imagine?

july 2020