Poetry Sunday: Penny by Barbara Crooker

As a person who's been owned by many cats over the years, this is a trip I've had to make more times than I can count. It never gets any easier.


by Barbara Crooker

She wasn’t a good cat. Wouldn’t let us pick her up
or cuddle on the bed. Sometimes she’d permit

petting, but only if she was in the mood, and on
her own terms. If she was perched on a chair, perhaps

you might approach. But now, at fifteen, she’s stopped
eating and drinking, sleeps all day. Instead

of wrestling the white Christmas Teddy, taking him down
to the bottom of the stairs, she’s huddled next to him

on the landing. Will even let me sit with her
and stroke her fur. I think she’ll slip from us

peacefully, but she’s starting to stagger, can’t
use the litter box, and her cries are terrible

to hear. So I take her to the vet–the place she hates
most in this world–because what else is there to do?

There’ll be no return trip. I hold her in my arms,
a fur-wrapped bag of bones. She’s gone beyond fear.

It’s not like I’m saying good-bye to a beloved friend–
she’s been peeing outside the box for months,

and “Aloof” is her middle name. But she’s purring
under my hand, as the vet slips the needle in, murmurs

appropriate clichés. I’m not sure what kind of loss this is–
how can you love what doesn’t love you back?–but for the rest

of the day, I wander through the empty rooms, looking
for a trace of orange, glimpse of a whisker. For she

was beautiful, and she knew it. No wonder the Egyptians
thought cats were gods. And now, we’re left, not bereft,

exactly, but stranded, washed up on some strange shore,
wandering, in the country of the merely ordinary.


  1. I can imagine it doesn't get any easier.

    1. Losing someone you love, including a furry someone, never is.

  2. I've not had as many cats as I would like but I've made this trip as a little kid and it hurt so bad.

  3. painful memories with all sorts of pets... the poem expresses it well...

    1. Indeed. The kind of pet doesn't really matter. It is never easy to let them go.

  4. This one made me cry! It reminded me of when I had to take my dog to the vet.

    1. It's an emotion devoted pet owners become familiar with.

  5. I enjoy cats, although I've never owned one (I'm a bird person, although petless for several years now). Saying goodbye to any pet is hard, and this poem expressed it so well.


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