Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Honor the Complications"

This poem is spillover from the July 2, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] chanter1944, [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah, and Anonymous on DW. It also fills the "Acts of Kindness" square in my 7-1-19 card for the Winterfest in July Bingo. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the Riposte thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Honor the Complications"

[Saturday, September 13, 2014]

"I am so sorry about your coat,"
Riposte said. "I'll buy you a new one."

"I understand, dear," Selima said.
"Cats will be cats, after all."

Of course, Mrrhow was
no ordinary cat, but the coat
had been so soft and its texture
tickled her paws so delightfully.

Too bad it hadn't lasted long
once she really went at it.

"We'll just have to do without
today's lesson, is all," Selima said.

Wait, what?

But Riposte was already
scooping up Mrrhow, and
he deposited her on the porch
before closing the door firmly.

She could hear him and
Selima chatting inside,
but that was all.

Mrrhow gave
a plaintive meow.

They ignored her.

She paced the porch,
meowing, but it didn't help.

She thought about hooking
her claws into the screen door
and climbing that, but clawing
had gotten her into this mess
in the first place, so ... no.

She was too dignified
to use telepathy.

The humans kept
acting like she had
forgotten something
when she shouted at them.

So Mrrhow was left outside
while Riposte and Selima
enjoyed their visit, and then
Riposte drove Selima home.

Well, that was ... disagreeable.


[Monday, September 15, 2014]

Mrrhow wasn't sure what to make of it
when Selima came back to the house.

It was easier to hang back and watch
than it was to try and figure it out, so
Mrrhow stayed just out of reach.

Selima made a long rambling speech
all about what respect was, how to get it
and how to give it, and why it's important.

Mrrhow didn't understand most of that,
but she understood enough to realize
that she had acted in a way that lost her
the respect of a person important to her.

She had thought it would be fine
to sharpen her claws on the coat
because she's a cat and that's
what cats do, but ... it's not fine.

Now Selima was mad at her,
and that realization was as
sudden and unpleasant as
a squirt from a water bottle.

Maybe Mrrhow should
reconsider her actions.

"Well, if that isn't
the sorriest kitten
I've even seen,"
Riposte said.

"Are you ready
to apologize to me,
Mrrhow?" asked Selima.

... I don't know how,
Mrrhow admitted.

"If you want to regain
my respect, then you
have to respect me,"
Selima said. "You can
start by saying you're sorry."

You're sorry, Mrrhow echoed.

"Good enough," Selima said.
"Then you follow that with
an act of kindness."

Like what? Mrrhow said.
It sounded new and weird.

"You'll have to think of that
yourself," Selima said firmly.
"That's part of the apology."

So Mrrhow thought about that.
She thought and thought.

She couldn't remember
all the nice things that people
were trying to teach her.

She could, however,
recall that Selima didn't
like delicious squeakies
because they startled her.

Mrrhow went out into
brushy edge of the yard
where all kinds of critters
lived in the shadows.

It took a while, but
eventually she caught one.

Not eating it was even harder.

Mrrhow pushed down on
her instincts and trotted back
to the house with her mouth full.

"Well, hello," Riposte said as
Mrrhow jumped on the porch.

"Who's here?" Selima asked.

"Mrrhow the Mercurial,"
Riposte said, watching her.

Mrrhow bent down to drop
the delicious squeaky
at Selima's feet.

"Aaaand she brought
you a dead mouse as
a present," Riposte said.

Does this count? Mrrhow said.

"Yes it does," Selima said.
"Thank you very much, but
I'm not hungry now. You
can go ahead and eat it."

So Mrrhow lay down and
ate the delicious squeaky.

Humans were strange, but
they were fun to watch, and
Mrrhow thought that it was
worth making some changes
in order to get along with them.

"Here," Selima said. "I've
brought this for you."

It was a cat tree covered
in layers of soft wool cloth.

The base was wide and heavy,
with a square cat bed above it,
connected by a scratching post.

The post smelled like it had
that awful, itchy sisal stuff on it
but was wrapped in a thick coat
of wool rags wound around it.

A carpet-covered ball dangled
enticingly from the cat bed.

Mrrhow gave it a perfunctory pat
with her paw, but really she was
more interested in getting
her claws into that wool.

The cloth was springy and
it tickled her paws just so,
the way the coat had done.

Mrrhow took the time to give it
a thorough scratching, then
rubbed herself all over it
for good measure.

"Okay, we're smooth now,"
Selima said with a smile.

Mrrhow squeezed
her eyes closed.

Then, just because
she didn't want anyone
to mistake her for a housecat,
she hooked a claw into
Selima's shoelace
and untied it.

Selima just laughed.

"Cats are so complicated,"
Riposte said, "and supercats
even more than usual."

"Well, that's the thing about
relationships," Selima said.
"The key is to learn to respect
and honor the complications
of other people’s lives."

Mrrhow didn't really
understand that ... but she
thought it would be worth a try.

* * *

Notes:

"The key is to learn to respect and honor the complications of other people’s lives."
Goldie Hawn

Cats scratch to keep their claws clean and sharp, among other reasons. They need a scratching post so they don't destroy other stuff like coats or furniture. There are ways to redirect cats to the designated place(s) for scratching.

You can make a scratching post out of anything your cat likes to scratch. Popular materials include carpet, sisal rope, cardboard, and logs. However, don't overlook fabric, which many cats love to claw. You can use the same techniques as making a braided wool rug to cover a scratching post. Denim scraps cut from old jeans can be laid over scratching furniture in patchwork style; old wool coats also work well. This tutorial explains how to cover an old suitcase with denim scraps, which you can generalize to cover any other rigid item. Terramagne-America has a much more active upcycling community than local-America has, so there you can find heaps of cardboard, fabric scraps, old clothes, carpet pieces, etc. free or cheap at thrift stores and junk shops. There will usually be some flyers with instructions for various projects you can make with each material, including DIY scratching posts.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, life lessons, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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