Remembering a Poem, And Harmony the Cat
I was reminded of a poem by Emily Dickinson earlier this evening, and found a few versions of it online. I remembered that I actually owned a collection of her poems, and went to get it from my bookshelf.
I wanted to make sure I entered in the poem correctly, so I found the first line in the appendix… and flipped to the proper page. It’s right smack in the middle of the book, and the volume almost opened itself right to the poem.
The poem was on the left. But on the right page, I saw two strands of hair that I immediately knew to be cat fur. They belonged to my cat Harmony (who passed away last year).
I honestly can’t remember the last time I opened this book, but it must have been some long while ago. Seeing this small bit of her was like a kick in the chest, and took my breath away.
Is it weird that I took a photo of this to share? Perhaps it is, but I wanted to record this moment – to share how something trivial and small can bring the past right back to you, how a matter of years can come rushing back… suddenly, and unannounced.
I ended up closing the book and leaving those two small hairs in place. The book is sitting on my desk, as I type these words. When I am done with this post, I’ll take it and put the book back on the shelf. Perhaps I’ll forget I did this, and perhaps I’ll forget about Dickinson’s poem. Perhaps a few years will pass until I remember it again, and go reaching for the collection once more.
The initial kick-in-the-chest feeling has been replaced by something more like a weight, a heaviness – nestled just below the neck and collarbone. The size and shape of it feels remarkably similar to how it might feel if a cat were sleeping on your chest.
It feels exactly like that, actually. But just without the warmth.