Your name is Pepper, you are a little tortoise-shell calico cat. Four months ago you left your home in Pacific Grove & ended up miles away over hills & valleys, forests & marshes, streets & highways, in Carmel. You doubtless had to hunt— How did you catch? What did you catch? How did you escape the cougars, the coyotes, the sun, the wind? Where did you sleep at night? Under some pine tree nestled on spongy moss & pine needles? Or in someone’s dumpster, a gully, or a gutter? How much longer would you have been away for if that friendly neighbor hadn’t called & had your microchip scanned? Would you still be out there, one with the wild & with no cares in the world? Did you miss us? We certainly missed you. Yes, we often thought of you, lost somewhere between yesterday & tomorrow. We thought you were dead. Built a little shrine in the backyard. Of course what I really want to know is why. Why? One day you were here & all was normal: you ate your breakfast, watched the cars through the front window, went out for your afternoon saunter between naps on the newspaper. But you missed dinner. & breakfast. & dinner again. It was if the earth had somehow swallowed you up into the soil & the water & the air. But I won’t ask why. I ran away from home, too, once. Pepper, are you the same Pepper? Do you know yourself? Do you know me? Come, come— we’re having salmon with gravy tonight, just for you.
I found this article in my local community newspaper, and I was genuinely astonished. When so much of our news has brought anxiety and melancholy, this was a genuine miracle. And not a “miracle” overwrought with divine grandeur, but a miracle in the sense of pure, genuine miraculousness. Somehow a little house cat, named Pepper, after having abruptly left her home four months ago, was recently found four miles away and returned to her owners because some concerned resident had had Pepper’s microchip implant scanned.
Having read the story, I wanted nothing more than to have a dialogue with Pepper in an attempt to know this miraculous and wonderful creature. I thought that, for this poem, the audience could play the part of the interviewee.
N.B.: if you want to read this story, the link above is to a PDF of The Carmel Pine Cone for last week. The story appears on the center bottom of page 1 and the center top of page 15.
N.B.2: the main picture is of my cat Janie (not Pepper).