once there was gus
There once was a kitty named Gustav Klimt, who lived in the land of Corbett, at the end of salzman road. His hair was long & orange, his eyes a glowing green & everywhere that Gus-Gus went the day was brighter & more serene. Gussy was a pacifist & picked on by local feral cats, one of whom had jet black fur & haunted our house by night, using our defenseless kitty door as his entry & scaring the bejeesus out of Gus, our gentle kitty. So he was happy when we moved to town, more cats but of gentler frame & aim, except those siblings from behind our house who entered, quite unannounced. This had Gus cowering in the corner & even worse but i won’t say more in this memorial verse. Eventually we learned to defend our borders with magnets & deal with the local raunchy raccoons & then, late in life had to get used to a kitten named Liberation, the bouncing kind who love to play &
bite. Poor old Gus sometimes had some fun but mostly had to excuse himself from such shennanigans.
He was our best friend & pet from ’98 when he joined us on Salzman until his recent demise in northeast Portland. Gus, unlike his famous namesake, was not known for his art, but with his giant hirsute paws, I’d always thought he might have some talent in that direction. He was an outdoor cat & loved sitting in the flowers all spring & summer long. In the summer, he was under the rosemary, where the shade was solid, in spring it was the love- in-a-mist that attracted him & for hours he would sleep among blue flowers, completely hidden despite his bright orange fur. Only in winter would he deign to visit us inside, allowing for lap sits or long stints in a closet under the clothes or the basement cupboard or some other long term but constantly changing location.
One great blessing in our lives was the long presence of Gus, his care our honor as he aged & finally died. He came to us in 1998 & stayed a good long while, leaving his earthly vessel here at home, early morning of the new moon, 01/11/2013. We never knew how old he was or what he’d gone through before, we just know he brought us acceptance & peace, soft fur to pet, humor, comfort, delight & goodness knows, so much more.
I think Gus stuck it out those few last days of decreasing mobility & more deeply sunken eyes in order that I care for him & adapt to his demise. He gave me one last chance to express the preciousness of long term kitty love. GusGus is buried under the forsythia bush I can see from my kitchen window; it’s golden flowers will remind me of his fur, it’s leaves the green of his eyes, the nearby pear will shade & the dragon statue protect his grave as tears leak from my eyes.
ODE TO GUS
gazing out the window
flash of tail peripheral so i turn
jerking my head & straining my neck
i know it can’t be he,
that he is gone from me, but still,
i jerk & look seeing in memory
that fluffy orange kitty pad by.
his giant paws treading oh so
gently! slow to libby’s quick,
pausing to scent the air, head up,
his green eyes aglow, tail high.
oh gus to see you again,
to pet that so soft fur,
long & orange & all over,
even if matted or grunge,
i kind of wish this now was then.