Rags, our 17 year old imperious barn cat
was dining at 6 but gone by 9—royalty do
know how to affect a scene, don’t they?
A mouser extrodinaire, it seemed
she would be with us for evermore,
remaining ’til the end a friendly,
loving queen of her domain—
just don’t poll the rodents.
It cannot be denied, however, that her majesty
could be a terrible tease when she wanted:
she loved to regally swish the horses in the face
as she tight-walked the stalls of her kingdom,
and would deign to lie in the middle of the track
because she knew I would go around her,
which of course I did. Muttering, it’s true,
but still, I did.
Whenever I went to feed the fish in the pond
she would establish her monarchy on that spot
and graciously rule from the bench beside me—
although I was never quite sure if she was there
to survey her realm or was casing the joint for later.
That was Rags.
As she aged we tried to entice her in
on bitter nights but she would hide,
preferring instead her throne in the hayloft
to a warm, cozy retreat in another’s castle.
She was a good cat, was Rags, I’ll miss her,
even more than she’ll miss me, I think,
and I wonder what we will do now without her.
(The rejoicing among the rodents, for one,
is getting out of hand!)
I wrote this poem after reading a charming Facebook post by Gail Dickinson, repeated in full below. In giving me the go ahead, Gail also told me that the friend who originally gave her Rags as a kitten passed away only a month before. Such are the links that bind us.
I confess some inspiration for this poem from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Cats. Eliot is often extolled as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, but I have to be honest, except for, and because of, his gem on the inner life of felines, the quality of his other work pales to me.
Thank you for reading Long may she reign. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.
Facebook post from Gail Dickinson, 2013.11.24—Rags. Our 17 year old barn cat was gobbling breakfast at 6 am this morning and at 9 am, she was dead on her cat bed in the barn 😦 . She was one of those cats guilty of killing many small mammals, which we appreciated greatly. A friendlier, more loving cat couldn’t be found, rubbing against horses’ faces when she walked along stall walls and jumping into the lap of anyone sitting down outside. She also thought it was funny to lie in the way of the carriage when I was driving in the ring, forcing me to go around her. She knew when I came out with the can of fish food that I would be sitting down by the pond to watch them eat and would jump on the garden bench to wait for me. As she aged we would try to catch her to bring inside on cold nights but after a few successfully tries she started hiding, it seems she preferred a nest in the hayloft to a private room in the house. At least she seems to have gone peacefully. She was a good cat.
© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.
Facebook posting by Gail Dickinson, © 2013 by Gail Dickinson; all rights reserved; may not be published in any form whatsoever.