November 17th, 2007


Baby Jasper

We peregrinate across Europe
with you lying backward across my shoulder,
cozying up to strangers in a café on the Champs-Elysées
and staring those impossibly wide eyes at the matador
as he slay El Toro in Las Ventas.
You cower into my armpit as we take a gondola in Venice,
terrified but motoring the entire voyage.
Your pupils dilate with each bong of Big Ben
and you respond in kind with a meow
worthy of national television.

Later, we scale the public steps of Mount Rushmore,
which bores you into catnap,
and descend the Grand Canyon on smelly burros
that make your pink button nose wriggle
and your mouth open to taste their rank cologne.
You prance with ghosts at Gettysburg
and stalk a million monarchs in Angangueo.

Another journey finds us in the Aussie Bush
singing of nature and oppression with Aborigines.
Painted children gather around you to pet your head
by an evening fire
illuminating the brown tiger stripes of your fur
into dancing flames.
Your tail keeps beat with the didgeridoo.

We never tempt China
with your deliciously tiny legs
or scrumptious feline frame.

On safari
in a canvas-back Hummer,
you paw at bugs as big as you
and fold your ears back
at the pride of lions,
unimpressed by our presence,
crossing the dusty road in front of us.
You sleep a lot in South Africa,
though you comfort AIDS orphans
by pushing your head under their chins.
You suddenly seem as skeletal as they
when I scoop you up to head to the airport.
The carrier weighs nothing more with you in it.

When I bring you into "EXAMINATION A,"
you hop down off the stainless table
and crawl in the crevice
between the wall
and a floor fridge filled with miracles
finding the single warm spot in the room.
Doctor Matt shows me the x-ray,
the prune of a lump in your tummy.
Kidneys failing.
Four to six weeks,
if that much.
He gives me impossible options
and holds my head on his shoulder
as my tears wet the cartoon kitties on his scrubs.

Neither of us utters a sound
as we trek back home.

I light a candle,
Santeria we had picked up in New Orleans' Cajun district
and I put on A&E.
You curl up on my lap
in a Halloween-colored throw
after kneading my belly
to make a soft spot.
Your purr vibrates through me
like a beam of radiation treatment.
I stroke your back,
tracing each vertebra of your spine
up and down with my fingers.
We nosh on Cool Ranch Doritos
and catch up on Cold Case Files
before nodding off comfortably,
dreaming cat dreams.


(c) 2007 Robert A. Geise