Tyger Tyger Burning Bright

I know Blake meant some other thing, made by some other special hand. But every morning, just past dawn when the stray coyotes have left the cool night alone, and the black bears are huddled somewhere far away enough, my little black cat and I go walking alone in the woods. And I will venture just ahead, and she will scratch a tree, a trunk just outside the perimeter of the yard to mark it as hers, and to sharpen a bit more her already deadly claws. Then, walking ahead, I will turn around like Orpheus to see . . . but my little predatory Eurydice doesn’t flee, doesn’t vanish into the Underworld of Forever. She follows ever slowly, ever at her own steady pace. And so I, in turn, do not have to, like that poor defeated poet, grieve. Whither shall we go, I watch her emerald eyes pointing the way, a subtle inclination, up the embankment, or along the flatland. And we do. Me first, then her. And when we are far within the lovely wood, where another poet had claimed ‘twas dark and deep, she will find a large heap of rock some old dead farmer a hundred fifty years ago had piled up with slabs of useless bluestone to clear his land for once-grazing sheep (long before these forests grew) and sit and gaze. And I may wait, resting on another nearby stone or a stump some twenty minutes or so, until my little guru sidles back over to me. It is from her that I have learned patience. And it is from her to quietly breathe. I have learned to sit before the dawn’s first rays of light and wakeful birds and all the forest sounds everyday abounding in the trees, to sense and be myself the quiet rising from years of fallen leaves. She can be a little show off, darting straight fifteen meters up the side of an uprooted tree suspended at a forty-five angle degree in mere seconds. In the end, no matter where we go, and as we return home, there are two things I also keep in my regard: that I am her dearest protector and she, my little soft panther, has, out of her grace placed a day’s trust in me.

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