His Way – a poem by Rita Moe

His Way 


Sitting on our flat tar roof
like a library lion, 
he was big as a raccoon
and striped, too, 
but without a mask. 

There were no trees, 
no ladders, no porch crannies 
granting access to our roof.
Still, the cat was there,
at roof-edge 
observing the street below.  

I let him in the rug-shaking door.  
At eight, I fancied myself 
a cat charmer, 
able to entice a feline 
with a slow, swaying finger 
held just a whiff 
from its nose.   

This cat showed no interest
in such a ploy. 

But when I sat 
on the edge of the bed,
suddenly 
he was on my lap— 
so large he overlapped my lap— 
purring.  

I tested the cat.  
Lifted him off me,  
stood up, 
walked around.
There was no clinging to my legs,
no fawning head rubs, 
no ingratiation. 
When I sat down, 
at once he settled again 
on my lap. 

I think this must be
what it is to meet the Buddha.
Appearing unaccountably 
and without fanfare. 
An absence of disdain 
and of neediness.
A presence 
encompassing
and yet 
without claim.  

I was eight. I knew this cat 
was not looking for a home.  
I led him downstairs,
opened the front door, 
watched him go on his way.  

Rita Moe’s poetry has appeared in Water~StonePoet Lore, Slipstream, and other literary journals. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Sins & Disciplines and Findley Place; A Street, a Ballpark, a Neighborhood.  She has two grown sons and lives with her husband in Roseville, Minnesota.  

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