Have You Seen This Cat?

From Jeffrey Henson Scales’ “House’s Barber Shop” series, 1987-1992

I’m sitting in the writerspace today, everyone click-clacking all around me, and big tears are silently sliding down my face.

I don’t know how to work on this book without letting in all the big feelings, and right now that means I am assaulted by the breakdown of the environment and our country and my relationship. Really, it’s my relationship. Sometimes I wish I were an ER doctor or an air traffic controller, someone whose work entailed putting out so many fires that there was no room for reflection or, goddess forbid, feelings. Sometimes I wish I were an actual firefighter.

I have a new neon sign flashing in my head now. It’s from “Wild Geese,” that Mary Oliver poem I once framed for Rachel because she gives me big hugs even when I’ve climbed so far inside myself that at first I flinch. You may be familiar with the quote:

“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

I loved the Legend not just for his legendary qualities but because, from the first time we walked side by side, he felt like home. I’d been locked down for years, and yet I knew that if this person reached for my hand, I would let him. I knew he would feel right and smell right and taste right, and he did.

And now it’s over. Intellectually I grasp the reasons–we were ill-matched in this space and time–but my body does not. It is shaky and stomache-y and cold and hot, like I’m detoxing from a drug and the only relief would be his touch. True physical communion is such a profound gift in a world that’s all texts and beeps and screens. The body is a soft animal after all, and it loves what it loves.

Oh how I miss our embrace.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy