Origin Stories – Stellasue Lee

Origin Stories
    Her Honey-Bunch, Gum-Drop, Sweetie-Pie Is Gone
    by Stellasue Lee

    Saturday, no calls I have to make, no plans
    of any kind, just this cat looking deeply into my eyes, 
    questioning why my husband isn’t here—

    and if she could, she would order me to bring him back—
   When I try to hold her, comfort her, she gives me 
    a stiff-legged response pushing away, and looks
    down her nose at me, her eyes wide, clearly
    questioning my presumption that she wants to be held.

	    No!—No holding. Go to airport
		    and bring him back!

    Every piece of fur points in that direction.
    I make breakfast, eat, shower, dress. 
    I find her in the closet, face burrowed deep
    in his shoe. She doesn’t even bother to acknowledge
    my presents. Her alpha male is gone—her main-
    squeeze, schnooky lumps, knight-in-shining-armor,

    heartthrob, big daddy-yum-yum, cuddle-bear 
    is gone, along with his lap, gone—

    And, since I am the one who is in attendance 
    to all her kitty needs, she blames me for his absents. 

    Later, she digs up a plant; throws up on my most
    expensive Chinese carpet, cuffs poor Tennyson
    after he washes her face, and pushes a kibble in her 
    direction, offers to share his place in the sun.

    Tennyson, the perfect Tuxedo cat. He accepts
    it all, loves her anyway, as we all do. Kaylee,
    Kaylee, Kaylee, I want to coo, pretty girl,

    your daddy will be home on Thursday, but she
    is back in the closet, sitting on a shelf below
    his shirts, her head stretched up in a whirl 

    of fabric, her tail drumming against a finished 
    wood shelf, lost in her kitty world of mourning. 

Origin Stories – Her Honey-Bunch, Gum-Drop, Sweetie-Pie Is Gone

How can I make it new to the reader, grief, buried so deeply within the core of a body?

We become so accustomed to giving comfort to those who are grieving, and the learned words lay on the tongue so at the ready, but how do we make it mean something at last, when grief follows the days as a black dog at our heels. This poem came from a friend’s “learned words” at a party years after the accident that caused my daughter’s death. I had to retreat to a bathroom, run water, muffle the sobs that welled up from a place in me I hadn’t known existed until that moment. There, I listened to laughter among the guests, music in the background. There were flowers, even in that tiny powder room as in the rest of that house, a moment in time where friends gathered for pleasure after a pandemic and isolation, yet my daughter’s life had become a paint brush of color, now faded to the edge of what remained.

Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Available now!

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

April 4Sharon Scholl

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Origin Stories