An End

Chiloquin, Oregon, USA — March 30, 2014

C’mon dog. Let’s go.
One last walk about the place.
Up the hill to the view.
Bitterbrush, sage, aspen, pine.
Yes, check the pasture for ground squirrels.
Busy dog.
Old elderberry.
Old cottonwood.
Nothing left here now.
Echoes and memories.
An empty house and a cat.
C’mon dog. Let’s go.

A Cat and His House
This is Raoul, the cat in the poem. Photo by Brett Fisher.

Raoul’s Story: For a time, we were going through a lot of cats on our little farm near Chiloquin, Oregon. Coyotes, eagles, and who knows what were taking them. In 2002, my daughter had just lost another cat. So she and her mother went to choose a kitten at a neighbors up the road. They came back with Raoul and his sister. Go for one cat, come back with two. Funny how that happens. Something about, “They were so cute.”

In 2011 when we were moving to Malaysia, we found homes for Raoul, his sister, and our calico cat. I took Raoul to his new home on my way out of town. A few weeks later, we checked in with the woman we hired to clean the house in preparation for renting it out. She said there was a gray cat trying to get in the house. We said, oh my goodness, please let him in and feed him. I guess the new home didn’t take. Raoul had walked nearly four miles back to our old house. He had been in a pet carrier when I drove him to his new home. How did he even know how to get back? Of course, I arranged for our subsequent renters to take care of him.

In early 2014, I was back in the United States for physical therapy on my knees and to work on some repairs and improvements on our old home while we were between renters. I was also there to get my dog, Jemma, and move her to Madagascar. She had lived in Malaysia with us, but had stayed behind a few months with family while we made sure it would work for her to come to Madagascar (considerations like availability of dog food and adequate veterinarian care). As the dog and I got out of the car, Raoul was there and happy to see us. Raoul and Jemma are friends. Jemma will pretty much chase every cat but him. I think it’s because Raoul taught Jemma how to hunt ground squirrels when she was a puppy. Clearly, the two still remembered each other.

I walked the place one last time with Jemma before starting the trip back to Madagascar. I wrote this poem about leaving this home one more time.

Raoul Back With Family
Raoul supervises a garden project at his new home back with family. Photo by Natalie Fisher.

Raoul’s Story Updated: As of November 2015, Raoul is living with family again. Natalie went to Chiloquin and retrieved him. I recently visited. All are happy.

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