‘I don’t belong here in a world full of strangers,
it was all someone else’s idea.’ T. Waits.
I watch Poe sleep. Draw him. Lose myself in him. Because I need to. I need to lose this ‘self’, this burdened, distracted, jibbering mind that cannot rest. So I slip into his black fur, curl into the large soft pads, the sharp angle of ear, always listening, all the sounds I cannot hear; the pale skin through the fur where it thins around the bottom of his ears, the spread of his wide brow; the eyebrow whiskers, the muzzle whiskers, jet black wires, with just a solitary white one, stark amongst them. The beautiful rhythm of his soft, sleeping body, a secret to itself, a whole beginning and ending, on and on, tail meets face, meets paws, the slope of his back, a flow of being, unending, undivided. So much life pulses from this still, dark sleeper. Life. Energy. There is a potency about him, even in sleep.
The different textures and lengths of his fur, thick here, thinner, shorter there; the broad noble sweep of his nose. The light highlights and darkens the soft slope of muscles; his belly rises and falls calmly, lost in sleep, he relaxes. He is now; he is quiet in his head, with the unspooling present. Tucked up into himself, contained in his curl of being, in the world and elsewhere, together; of his own physical shape and being, there is no separation, he is all cat, he is. Cat in life, life in cat.
The deep lines of his eyes, lost in the darkness of his face. A black coat reveals so many subtle, rich shades in the sun’s light; odd stray white hairs, here and there break the black. Soft tufts tilt pointedly from the very edge of his ear tips, like a lynx; a memory of wilder ancestry sleeps in his genes, this wild man straddles both worlds. White hairs in his ears, amongst the wonderful, complicated landscape of the inner ear, the whorls and swirls, the veins in the sunlight, these acoustic marvels, receiving signals way beyond my own.
Signs of fighting, a scar, a slit, a missing bit, space where something tore or caught; a bald oval, white skin peeps through, on his leg; a scab, missing fur at the side of his big tufty jowls, a bite from another wild stranger?? Who knows what he gets up to out in his wild world, in the shadow world we mostly do not see, occasionally hear, as a haunting scream in the night. The feral night, long after we have shut ourselves away and forgot there are many lives out there, whole worlds ignored, never thought about, dismissed. Lives that have endured for way longer than we have; life goes on without us, by shutting ourselves further and further in, we lose this connection that is part of us; we think we are ‘better’, ‘beyond’ that, but we are the ones who lose.
The rough black mats of his paws, twitch in dreams, who knows how many miles they have trod, where they have wandered, what spaces and spirits they have touched…
Long sweep of whiskers, sensitive, strange antennas, communicating their own language.
So I watch. I sink. I unselve, by merging with this marvel before me. I stare, I study, I unburden myself of my self and sink into cat; pure, present, open. He accepts all of me.
It is the only thing to be done. Turn inwards?? No, that’s no good, the very thing I try to escape, turn outwards, to the cat, the bird, the sky, the wind, the tree, the rain. Turn to the momentary world of the wild, the falling away present of creatures and elements.
Poe stretches in his sleep, long and juddery, sighs with contentment, then curls back up and slips into dreams once more. And I pour myself into him, opening up to the landscape of cat, the world of catness that connects so easily to the life beyond the surface, accepting all he experiences with an open consciousness. I travel over his body, second by second, noticing every nuance, each tiny detail. My hand moves re-imagining him on the paper, emerging patterns, reactions that create another Poe; a map of my journey into Poe, away from myself to connect with some deeper shared reality, there is no separation for him. Then I get lost in just watching him, I don’t even bother drawing any more, so deeply have I become fascinated and absorbed by this small, potent, dark being before me. Cat is all, all is cat, and for a short time, that is all that matters.
Not long after writing this I came across this quote – ‘Nature teaches us many things and animals can become portals through which to observe consciousness.’ Ian Fox