Poetry: For Pet Memorial Sunday
I’ll be speaking a little later today about “The Joy of Pets”, adopting again after a loss, and especially remembering my own two losses this year, Cookie and Kelly, along with all the other cats who came to shape my life and left me a better person.
Just as my cats have inspired me to visual art, so have they inspired me to creative writing. I’m sharing three poems here about or inspired by Cookie, Kelly and Moses, both as text and audio/visual where I’ve had the opportunity to record my reading of the poem and create a slideshow of images to accompany. The Gift of a Morning and Pawprints and Raindrops were written simply about moments of beauty inspired by Cookie and Kelly, respectively. Things I Found in the Woods was written for Moses at about the time I knew I’d soon lose her, recording my thoughts of her mingled with musings about the ephemeral nature of the January thaw. For each poem, I’ve included just an image and brief narrative plus the text of the poem and the video, with a link to the original post if you care to read more.
I had included the remarks below with the post of Things I Found in the Woods, and it is a reflection of the continuum my evolving family of felines has been in my life:
Ten years ago I lived with a largely different group of nine cats, only Cookie and Kelly still with me from those days. Ten years from now the group will be similarly changed. But each of them from before this time and the years to come is forever a part of my life.
…now all my losses have become one and are no longer losses, not a big chasm of dark sadness but a bright collective of memories of all their lives mingled with mine in the same way I remember the turns of the seasons. Their losses are not separate from me and my life, but their lives are a permanent part of who I am and the cats I live with today as I remember being in the garden with Moses, the day I first saw Stanley with ice crystals collecting on his fur, the way the furniture was arranged when I moved in here and everyone collected on the table by the door when I left in the morning, watching Mimi outside and deciding she should come to live with me.
Their lives are not a part of my past, but of my present; just as the earth holds the memories of all that’s past and turns it into new life, so do I.
For Cookie: The Gift of a Morning
My sincerest wish as I remember Cookie is that all of you who read what I write, each of you who has a relationship with one or more animals, that your relationship is as deep, complex, satisfying and, if your species or breed allows it, as long-lasting as was Cookie’s and mine. I could never feel that I have any regrets, that Cookie and I “missed” anything but we lived as full a life as a human and cat could do. It depends on many things often beyond our control, but I wish those things for everyone who loves an animal, now and always.
Cookie gave me many gifts in all the years she was with me, including the visual discoveries from this particular morning in September 2011 which led to a poem and insights beyond what I wrote that morning, and remembering that morning and other mornings I have come to the end of a stage. The poem text and an audio version of the poem with a slideshow are at the end of this post.
Read more of the original post, which includes a remembrance of Cookie.
Here is the poem, and you can also watch it with the embedded video, below, or view it on YouTube.
The Gift of a Morning
I thought Cookie
was being stubborn, contrary,
when she wandered away
into the overgrown garden
sauntering at her own pace beneath the stems
of fallen burdock and grasses
and through the forest
of tall goldenrod and asters
where I couldn’t follow.
She sat calmly among grasses and blooming beggar’s ticks
and when I arrived at her side, irritated,
skirt prickly with stickseed and burdock pods,
I reached to pick her up, bad girl,
and turned to see what she studied,
and saw my garden awash with sun
majestic tufts of goldenrod backlit by beams of light
humming with hungry bees finding
the sweetest autumn nectar for their final meal,
white poofs of sow thistle holy in their radiance,
and the first calico asters, my favorite
dappled with passing drops of sun
against the backdrop of dark silhouetted trees;
so much to love in a sweet autumn morning
so much I would have missed.
poem © 2010 B. E. Kazmarski
For Kelly: Pawprints and Raindrops
This poem was inspired by a sweet habit of Kelly’s and by one particular morning, written several years ago. Most recently I decided to post it on the Sunday just six days before I lost Kelly, “…a gently raining morning, and now afternoon, so I share this poem in print and in the recorded version…,” simply unaware what was coming and enjoying Kelly’s presence with me in that magical hour. The morning of the day she died was very similar to the day in which I wrote it, rain tapping on the roof and Kelly gently walking on me, and while we unknowingly enjoyed the last time we’d awaken together I remembered this poem and the actual early dawn which had inspired it. Read more about that morning in “Where’er You Walk”. Inspiration is an ongoing gift, never caught in the moment but continuing to bring back the sparkle that awakened you.
Pawprints and Raindrops
I am not awake but aware
of the sound of raindrops
whispering in the leaves and tapping on the roof
in the early morning, still dark
and little Kelly, sensing my awareness
hurries over and steps on my back;
I feel her tiny cold paws dimpling the surface of my skin
as I drift off in the murmur of her purr and the rain
I think of raindrops on water,
I am the water, my skin the surface
and I can look up and in the increasing daylight
see the circular ripples of contentment
mingling on my own surface.
poem © 2009 B. E. Kazmarski
I’ve recorded it with a slideshow of images and uploaded it to YouTube, but you can click the embedded video below and watch it right here.
About the poem…
I wrote this poem in 2009 but finalized it in 2010 just in time for my annual poetry reading at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in February 2010. Pawprints and Raindrops went on to be published in a variety of sites on the internet, and it also won both a Certificate of Excellence and Muse Medallion for poetry from the Cat Writer’s Association in 2010. In spring 2012 I began recording some of my poems, especially those with highly visual content so that I could also create a slideshow of images to accompany the text.
Things I Found in the Woods
Every year the winter opens up to a few days of warm intoxicating sun and mud in January and often in February, and I’ve run outside to celebrate the day. This year it was February 5, two days after Cookie died, and as I enjoyed the warm day and remembered this poem, I knew exactly what I wanted to create as a dedication to my faithful heart cat, my best friend, and for the first time recorded one of my poems and created a slideshow of images to accompany it.
I originally wrote this poem in 2006, for Moses as I knew her body was failing and she had little time left, and originally wrote this post in February 2011. What I wrote last year about this time of year is still how I feel today, so I won’t change it, but bear in mind that its references are a year old.
Read the original post from this year, which includes memories of many of my cats and more thoughts about the transience of life and love.
Dedicated to Moses, the most gentle, loving being I have ever encountered.
Things I Found in the Woods
Tiny rivulets of water released from thawing soil
flowing beneath last year’s debris, trickling and gurgling all around
hurrying down hillsides before the freeze returns.
A cup-shaped fungus holding a tablespoon of snowmelt
for a song sparrow to sip, practicing its vernal melody
for the time when spring arrives in earnest.
Ferns, newly-green, draped on cliffs,
fluttering like garlands in the mild, caressing breeze
gathering a little nourishment to last the rest of the winter.
Fallen trees blanketed with bright green moss,
thick and lush already in the brief January thaw
filling a span of life in but a few days.
Four young white-tailed deer, capricious as the gusts,
feeling the flush of their first spring as adults
cavorting as if winter might not return tomorrow.
An understanding that life and love are cycles,
and that the moment must be taken for what it offers
even if what it offers is not what we expect.
The strength and courage to show as much dignity as you,
and to walk this last precious part of your path with you
and when I can walk no more beside you
to let you go.
poem © 2006 B. E. Kazmarski
Watch the video below or click here to see the video on YouTube, “Things I Found in the Woods”.
Enjoy other poems about my cats.
Listen to other recorded poems about my cats.
Visit my YouTube site for all my recorded poems (so far).
About my poetry and poetry readings
In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. ACFL&MH invited me to perform a poetry reading and to display the artwork that inspired those poems.
After each show I’ve built a web page with the poetry and art I featured. Please visit, read my poetry and view my artwork. My prior readings have been:
“Paths I Have Walked” in 2007, featuring “Dusk in the Woods”;
“Winter Twilight” in 2008, featuring “Summer Morning on the Creek”;
“Change of Season” in 2009, featuring “Autumn in the Valley”;
“Coming Spring” in 2010, featuring “Spring Comes to a Bend in the Creek”
In 2011 I published a small book of my poetry from these four readings entitled Paths I Have Walked. Right now it’s still available in print—read more about it on my Portraits of Animals Marketplace blog or order it from my website. You can also find it here on The Creative Cat or in the poetry section of my website if you’d like to visit there and read more of my poetry.
I am currently preparing Paths I Have Walked for various e-readers. I will eventually produce an audio version as well, and somehow a version with the slideshows.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
8 thoughts on “Poetry: For Pet Memorial Sunday”
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These are incredible poems, Bernadette. They are filled with light, love, the beauty of (not-so-)ordinary things, and so much more that I just can’t put a name to.
Tammy, thank you so much! I’m honored. These poems were gifts to me, the ones I dropped everything and wrote the first draft of immediately, and made very few changes. Thanks to my girls.
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I love the poems, especially the first one. So much of the beauty of life I have learned to see by looking through the eyes of an animal.
RumpyDog, thanks for reading. You’re quite the literary puppy! Cookie knew exactly what to do, and even where to sit. I’ll never know how she knew so much about me, and yet I always felt I didn’t know her well enough.