I’ve had a kitty in my life, off and on, since I was about eight.  My first was a black male with four white feet, so I called him Mitten Foot.  There’s an old photograph showing my holding Mitten Foot against my child’s face, looking as happy as I ever got those days.  When Mitten Foot died, there was a long dry spell with no kitties until I began living in Minneapolis.  Since about 1965, however, I’ve enjoyed close bonds with nine or ten cats, male and female, each with special qualities that drew and held me.

One of these companion animals keeps coming back to me at unexpected moments.  His name is Buff and he lived with me over ten years during which time I sobered up and came out as a lesbian.  That means he endured some of my least responsible behaviors as I sunk further into my alcoholism.  It also means he saw me begin a journey of  self-acceptance and rejuvenation that continues into the present.  He was faithful, beautiful, and wise.  And he forgave me instantly for the times I made him wait too long for dinner because I needed to finish my second Jack Daniels neat.

Here is my homage to magical Buff.


            For Buff

one April Sunday afternoon
you slide away to somewhere other, 
away from me and all my love

loudest purr I ever knew
stilled forever–
I feel you brush me–bless me–
silent, present,
full of power

ochre velvet fur
ancient whorls along your sides
sad eyes–wise eyes–
no more looking into mine,
asking for release from me
and all my wishes to preserve you

like the light that pours through my window
then slowly leaves the room,
you slide away–
loudest purr I ever knew