Cat: Concrete

It isn't a daydream; it's reality, and it feels that way. Written 2.25.08 (?).

I am sitting out here on the porch—the high balcony, with flat scratchy brown carpet underfoot, and two white rocking chairs. It looks out, through mosquito net, onto the still little garden below. The palms, too.

The temperature is perfect. Very slightly cool. It smells alive, yes, but the air is so near the warmth of my own skin that I can barely feel it.

It rustles cicadas (some other insect?) and a tap-tappering-click, near inaudible, from something below. The air conditioner perhaps.

It smells so good. Just this little "this isn't home, this is warmer, closer to the Equator, closer to the belly of the globe." Different plants and everything.

Kitty. kittykittykitty. Big wide eyes, big long sniffs, feet out, shoulders back, fingers bending slightly oddly, that high feeling in my head, like holding a string just taut. Not tight, jangly with nerves. Not strained. Taut. Clear. A note ringing: just right.

And the muzzle crimping its phantom three inches in front of my nose and mouth, and the whiskers jutting out, definitely, perfectly, carefully real.

And the tail spiraling loosely out, flicking. That low soft tight tickle right at the base of my spine. My body, for a human's, is held weirdly.

It is not a vague mystical spiritual hallucinatory vibrating-this-way are-you-sure thing. It is sure. Crisp, measured, taut-just-right. Mythically ordinary. And the myth is mine.

Held. Relaxed, but it's held, there's something that's mine, no one else is touching it, and no one can rip it away. I am holding the shapeshift like I hold open the screen door—something ordinary, but a doorway, Janus' place—but this is my place, mine.

I hold open the screen door, and a spring pulls it shut behind me, but I'm not holding that spring tight, unforced, part of the mechanism, and not loose either. Door wide open, just the right way. Looking out.

I hold my fingers differently when I type, carefully, nearly stiffly, precisely, and then pulling forward fluid, like a leopard's spring on a very small animal. I type with two fingers and always have. Hunt and peck.

I am quite alone, on this balcony, alone in my chair, with the rest of the world sleeping at my back, and the back of the chair nodding back and forth. And whiskers, twitching back and forth. Twelve feet long, this balcony? And high above—I'm content with that—I like heights, pretty high above, thirty feet perhaps it is.

I can look down. Some palms, some hibiscus making little spots of bright pink underneath the railing and the mosquito net. I have it. I hold it. Mine, for now.

Tilting luxuriously back in my chair, I love rocking chairs, feel that, and the tail jittering back behind it. And I lose sense of the tail. Bite my tongue, concentrate, look out at the black roof across from here. The tail is mine again too, the feeling of it is a funny softness, nibbling at the place where my spine ends.

I own my body. I own the sensation of it. I can shape a clever careful tail. I can hunt and peck fast as anything, with clever careful fingers, even when my mind blurs down to feline. I own my mind and these two liquid layers of it, and I can pour back the human, roll forward a long stretch to leopard.

Now I am alone and awake and it's the middle of the night, and I own the porch, and the white rocking chair, and black roof outside and the pink hibiscus and the dark and the crickets and the archway by the stairs and I have it, hold it, for this hour or so.

Mine, my work, my right, my chance to let the cat come out.

Clean and crisp, and the February Florida night all among me, smelling alive with its own power, alive as the cat and the hibiscus.

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