Stay Wild, My Soul Child

I last saw Miss Ivy on July 7, 2010. She went into the woods on a hot, sultry day and never came out. I did not worry too much for a day or two. She is an experienced huntress and is Queen of her territory. She ritualistically heads out after nightfall and is waiting at the door at dawn. She sleeps all day. But, she did not appear on the third morning. I started to worry.

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So strange to mourn a cat whom many people tell you might come back in a week, a month, or a year or two. Fantastical stories pour forth. These stories have competition from the tales of coyotes roaming the riverside and the number of cats that have gone missing in these hills. “We used to have cats,” some say, “not anymore.”

I placed my small statue of St. Francis on my bedroom window sill. He is facing out into the woods. I followed the advice for searching for an outdoor cat (as distinct from an indoor cat that escapes, or a cat that has recently moved). I notified neighbors for 1 1/2 miles. I called the police and Ed stopped by the animal shelter. I put my dirty laundry in the garden and on the porch, hoping my scent would call her home. I tell myself that I need to let her go, but I am still watchful as I pull into the driveway. I expect to see her bounding for the door. I have auditory hallucinations of her meowing in the early morning.

So, today I am preparing. For what? Not a funeral. I don’t know what to call it…

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away…to the waters and the wild…with a faery, hand in hand, for the world’s full of weeping…

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep
Come away…to the waters and the wild…with a faery, hand in hand, for the world’s full of weeping…

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away…to the waters and the wild…with a faery, hand in hand, for the world’s full of weeping…

Away with us she’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
She’ll no more hear the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into her breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
Come away…to the waters and the wild…with a faery, hand in hand, for the world’s full of weeping…
(apologies to W.B. Yeats for altering “The Stolen Child”)

Here is a more faithful rendition of Yeats’ “The Song of Wandering Aengus”:

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when the white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name;
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

In closing, I’ll paraphrase Shawn Mullins… Ivy, stay wild, my soul child, and don’t you let ’em bring you down.

Author: Margot M

I make my home in Western Massachusetts with my husband Ed. We are natives of Massachusetts with allegiances to North Carolina, where we spent the first four years of our marriage. We have four grown children (two are his, two are mine) and a young grandson. We are excited to see what adventures await us all.

One thought on “Stay Wild, My Soul Child”

  1. I’m so sorry to hear this, Margot! I have been thinking of Ivy since you started posting about her on FB… We have lost two indoor/outdoor cats in a similar way. They just stopped coming home (different times, several years apart). In both cases, we suspected the coyotes that seem to come around certain times of year. We too were told by a few neighbors that they used to have cats, but “not anymore” b/c of the coyotes.

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