Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Hairballs"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls. It fills the "thief" square in my 3-16-15 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. It has been sponsored by EdorFaus. This poem belongs to the Damask thread of the series Polychrome Heroics, and is a followup to "Fragmented and Disconnected."



I'm so accustomed to Macavity
ambling around the grassy yard,
wandering in and out of the house,
twining himself between my ankles,

that it takes me a moment to realize that
he's just done it in the house that is our head,
and the little thief stole half my tunafish sandwich too.

Damn cat.

Damn telepathic cat.

Damn crazy life with superpowers in it.


The first time Macavity
walks through my walls,
I'm startled, but not upset.

He's such a pretty kitty,
who could get mad at him?

Just as I do in the outside house,
I use mirrors and, sometimes,
illusion to send bright spots
dancing across the floor
for him to chase,

and laugh at his antics.

It's easier here than in the world outside,
and it's good practice for both of us.


I worry about having a cat around
with Mallory in the outer-household.

I look up references to cat dander
and saliva and asthma. If we were
shopping for a cat, we could get
a Nakitty, which is no help with
a cat we already have.

Mallory hasn't seemed to have trouble
with Macavity, but still, I worry.

She's allergic to dust, not cats,
he says tartly as he meanders
through my mind, his tail brushing
the string of herbs that I have
drying in my bedroom. Besides,
I only sleep with her in her dreams

Well, at least someone is there
to keep watch over her sleep.


I read about cats,
particularly stray and feral ones,
how hard their lives are --

the ways people can help
by making shelters or
having them neutered
or even adopting them
as housecats.

Macavity must overhear
what I'm thinking because
he slinks into my mind,

kneads his paws against
the meat of my thigh,
and leaves behind
pinpricks of red

to let me know he disapproves.


I don't know how he knows,
but he knows.

Some days I hate
that I am a man but
the body we have to share
is a woman.

Macavity comes inside
where nobody else will
see or hear us, and says,
"If you want to be a Man,
then remember that I am
a Cat who walks by himself."

He lets me throw my boots at him,
and even my knife, but no matter
how I try, I never seem to hit him.

He steals my shoelaces and
pukes up hairballs in my boots
by way of a thank-you.

It's strange how we understand each other.


It's so hard to cope with everything.

There are days when the whole world hurts
and everyone else keeps dumping their crap on me
instead of even trying to deal with it themselves,
because after all it's Keane's job to do the hurting.

Sometimes I just lock the fucking door, pull the shades,
curl up in bed, and cry myself to sleep.

My headmates forget, or maybe they don't know,
that Macavity is as much empath as telepath.

In the night I feel the soft pressure
of padded feet walking over me,
through the blankets, one at a time.

A warm weight settles beside me,
soothing the achy parts of my mind,
and in the velvet darkness

I hear purring.

* * *


Headspace, which may seem like a house or some other configuration, is part of what allows the people in a multiple system to interact with each other. Usually it is private, but some systems have headspace that others can enter, and some outside people may have abilities which make it easier for them to enter.

Cats are a common trigger for asthma, but not all people with asthma are bothered by cats. There are ways to cope with a cat allergy.

Nakitty is a breed of cat in Terramagne which does not grow hair at all and has very low allergens. Like Sphynx cats, they require protection from cold, and without eyelashes are more vulnerable to eye injuries. They are very phlegmatic cats who, due to their lack of coat, love snuggling in warm laps. This makes them popular as therapy cats, especially for people with superdisempowers who can sympathize with the lack of fur.

"The Cat That Walked By Himself" is a famous story about domestication.

People (and cats) have different opinions about how to handle feral or stray cats. Shelter boxes are one option, adoption another, and trap-neuter-return a third. Macavity is just not really a fan of humans meddling with the lives of free-range cats.

Purring can soothe both physical and emotional complaints.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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