Our cat Smokey, otherwise known as “Empress Smokey Jade Mountain, First of Her Name” (doesn’t everybody give their cat a grand long nonsensical name?) died abruptly and unexpectedly yesterday, June 16, 2018. She was aged only ten years (give or take–she was a rescue, so we don’t know for sure).

Though my partner Rob was clearly her favourite human, she had room in her heart for me too.

My partner and Smokey in happier days
My partner and Smokey in happier days. His shoulder was her usual perch.

She often served as a muse for me:

  • there is a cat based on Smokey in my novel Blood Rain
  • in Fables, Fictions, and Fantasies: A Compendium she appears as herself under the pseudonym ‘Small Cat’ in the story called “Feed Me”
  • she was the inspiration for a poem I wrote called “Ergot Incantation for a Cat” (that poem is included in at the end of this post)

My very small human and animal family is still in shock at her abrupt passing.

20170922_200510_HDR
Smokey was deeply suspicious of the clothes dryer and frequently inspected it to make sure it wasn’t in any danger of becoming . . . I dunno a hell-mouth? portal to another dimension? I was never sure why she was inspecting it, but she took her job very seriously

I will never forget her sweetness, her ferocity, her weird obsession with the clothes dryer, and the feel of her featherlight fur on my skin. It was like Gothic cotton candy.

I know that not everyone is “an animal person.” I am also aware that our world has much bigger problems than one dead companion animal. Y’all, those are bigger problems for other days.

Today I ask that you share some of your kindness and compassion with me as I grieve for the most dainty and ferocious fur-child I’ve ever had. 

Then please offer a gesture of love tonight to your own dear ones, regardless of species.

If you’d like a free-of-charge epub of the recently-released Fables, Fictions, and Fantasies: A Compendium sent to your very own email inbox, just email me and I’ll forward it to you as soon as I can. (Don’t like to be crying and on the Internet at the same time, so it might take me a couple of days to repond. Crying while Interneting it’s almost as dangerous as drinking while Interneting.)

email: chloe (DOT)a(DOT)cocking@gmail.com for your free book.

Thank you!


Ergot[1] Incantation for a Cat

steely blue with

claws and teeth, claws and teeth, claws and teeth

steely blue with

claw and teeth

asleep, a-twitch beside me

 

mealy brew with

paws and heath[2], paws and heath, paws and heath

mealy brew with

paws and heath

a-peep, an itch inside me

 

freely flew with

slaws[3] and sheath[4], slaws and sheath, slaws and sheath

freely flew with

slaws and sheath

a-creep, a witch bestride me


Sometimes when writing poems I use unfamiliar or less common words. When I do that I like to include a few footnotes to help all y’all out, just in case you’re like “Ergot, wtf is ergot?!” If you are a smarty pants and know all this stuff, well, all I can say is “good job, guess you can skip the footnotes.”

[1] Ergot is a small black mold that can infest stored rye grain. It has hallucinogenic properties. Some believe the women, men, and children who “confessed” to cavorting with the devil, riding broomsticks through the sky at night and so on during the European Witchhunts (aka The Burning Times) were describing ergot hallucinations to the inquisitors.

[2] Heath is a plant common in many parts of Europe. You could cook it up in a cauldron for some ‘boil boil/ toil and trouble’ action if you want, but I’d advise you add in a few (ethically sourced) animal paws for good measure.

[3] “Slaw” is regional contemporary North American slang used to denote “a slut” or anything that is “broken down, beaten up, or worn out”. I don’t have the energy at the moment for a feminist polemic about the connections between so-called “sluts” and witches, so : : Hundreds, if not thousands, of books and articles have been written about this topic by humans much smarter and more accomplished than me, so happy Googling.

[4] “Sheath” has, in some historical contexts, been used to refer (rudely) to women’s genitals, much as “sword” has been used for male genitals.

 

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