Monday, October 5, 2009

Rooted in love, Willow branches out into second year

- by 李商隱 Lǐ Shāngyǐn (812-858)

Boundless the leaves roused by spring,
Countless the twigs which tremble in the dawn.
Whether the willow can love or not,
Never a time when it does not dance.
Blown fluff hides white butterflies,
Drooping bands disclose the yellow oriole.
The beauty which shakes a kingdom must reach through all the body:
Who comes only to view the willow's eyebrows?

This is Willow's official first birthday photo. No, we don't usually dress our pets in clothes. Last Friday I put flea medicine between the shoulder blades of both dogs and each inside cat and Willow is so limber that she could twist her head enough to lick at the poison. I remembered a little t-shirt that I bought decades ago for Cirrus -- my muse of a white cat who was long with me and has been gone even longer still -- when she was old and cold and did indeed wear dog sweaters in her final years. Surprisingly, I found it after rummaging through only one drawer and immediately put it over Willow's head and breathed a sigh before attempting to place her front paws through the arm holes, expecting a struggle. But rather than struggle, she snuggled into it and seemed appreciative of the barrier it afforded between the oily junk on her back and her seeking tongue. I haven't taken it off of her because she seems to like the extra layer. She is a very long, very thin cat and I think she is feeling the chill of autumn more than the other animals (although big fat Shiva settled in front of the gas stove as soon as I relit the pilot light last week, so even she feels the change of seasons).

On the back of the t-shirt are printed the words Precious Possession. The description couldn't be further from the truth. If anything, I am her possession and not the other way around. Sunday morning Mike was up earlier than I and when he came into the bedroom to gently waken me he found Willow there on the pillow next to me. He remarked what a close bond she and I share. Yes, so close it hurts, knowing the cruel separation to come years from now, the separation that nearly broke me when Cirrus and later Bleecker, my two favorite cats, died.

Willow deserves a poem for her first birthday, but I just don't have one in me right now. So I read numerous poems about cats in preparation of this post. None suited Willow in the slightest. I decided to seek poems written about willows, and came upon this one that truly does suit her. The site where I read it (click) contains an esoteric feature titled "Allusions to Classical Chinese Poetry in Pink Floyd," noting that the original Willow poem ". . . has an element of sensuality and playfulness that come through rather vividly in translation. The poet is praising in a subtle but quite unmistakeable way the physical charms of the woman who is the subject of the poem." That description also seems a fitting portrayal of my cat, Willow. And, ironically, the feature refers to the Pink Floyd lyrics to "Cirrus Minor," and their reference to willows.

I did write two poems about my cat, Cirrus, one of them published in Cats Magazine. I will post them at a later date. As I said, she was my muse and I think Willow could be one too if I tap into the flow.



YogaforCynics said...

Who comes only to view the willow's eyebrows?

I'll be pondering that one all day...

Happy birthday to Willow!

Kim said...

Willow on your pillow! That little shirt is too cute on her. Cats really possess us and not the other way around--so true.

La Belette Rouge said...

Happy birthday, Willow! I have to say she somehow has an Asian look in that outfit and I love it. Very glamorous!

the watercats said...

cats have such a esoteric aura about them, and willow is a beautiful example of this, her eyes are stunning! happy birthday to a lucky feline, many happy years I'm certain are in store :-)

Rhiannon said...

Are Willows eyes yellow or green? They look like a beautiful yellow. My Lizzie has yellow eyes.

Such a sweet story of Willow laying on the pillow right next to your head. Lizzie's brother (who is no longer with me) used to do this all the time and touch me with his paw. I miss it so. Lizzie isn't so much like this, she is not as affectionate, but I love her as my family.

Congratulations on Willows first "official" Birthday. Tell her she has a wonderful beautiful "Mom" and tell her how lucky she is to have you.

Love, Rhi

Maggie May said...

oh my gosh could she be more deadpan bemused!? what a cutie.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I know exactly how you feel - both my cats are quite elderly now (though Tiny can still be quite kittenish) and i live in constant fear of losing their companionship.

Before i moved into my house the previous owners had a cat - Dingo (we never knew his real name, that was one given to him by my neighbour) - they abandoned him when they moved out: as did the Scumlords two doors down when they moved out - leaving 2 cats behind. I can't imagine taking on such a responsibility and then just being able to walk away.

But i will never regret taking them into my life and the simple pleasure that being with them has brought (even when they are noisy or sick on the bed at 4am)

Happy birthday Willow - nice T-shirt!

Lydia said...


Willow is most appreciative of all these good wishes on her birthday!

@YogaforCynics- I pondered it right along with you. :)

@Kim- Willow thanks you for being here for her birthday. xo

@Belette- Funny you'd say that because she has this little beard and I when I posted a photo of her showing it off some months ago someone said she looked like an old Asian man (I think it was Buddha of Hollywood who said that).

@the watercats- Thanks, and we are sure counting on those many years to come. I told the vet that she should be thought of as "the 20-year-cat" and doctored as such.

@Rhi- Actually, her eyes are a color right in between yellow and green. They are beautiful and very loving.
The way Lizzie's brother touched you with his paw is exactly like fact I wrote about that in one of her poems. It's a special kind of closeness.

@Maggie May- Deadpan bemused. Perfect description. When I say "hello, beautiful" to her she closes her eyes as if to say "time to be adored..."

@Pixies- I had no idea that your two special cats came to you that way. What a wonderful guy you are to create home for them and to make them your family. I know how much they mean to you and I hope their health holds for years more. I hope their warranties don't expire anywhere close to the same time, either.

Darlene said...

Happy Cat Birthday Willow. I hope you are around for a long life to make your mistress glad.

Nancy said...

Happy birthday to your lucky little cat. I, too, had a white cat muse. I miss him to this day. Glad you have a new friend.

Lydia said...


@Darlene- She thanks you immensely and hopes so too.

@Nancy- Thank you, and you have my empathy in the missing-them department. Do you? Have a new friend?



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