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"My Shadow" (by Joe DiMino)

I was never an animal person—
Not that I have distain
For tail wagging, jumping and licking;
Purring in the lap sleeping—
Whatever your best-friend poison:
Little finny scaly things,
Colorful snipped wings (I bet they like that);
Fine if that’s for you—but not for me…well—until
This little black stray
Hopped the fence into the backyard
One winter’s night (day would be a better rhyme
But less factual);
On silent-padded-paws,
As if the greatest burglar
(King of nefarious chores)
With all the air
Of a proper owner
His illegitimate claim
Went to the patio chair—

My guess, a nap he wanted—
Off the cold ground
Beneath the awning
Protected from frost;
So he jumped-up, laid there
With all the air
Of Mafia boss—
(So, in time, I felt ordered to pay two bowls,
For food and fresh water)
Cheaper than my slaughter;

As I said,
I’m not an animal person;
But surely a landlord was he—no boarder;
Aristocrat, in a low to ground,
Sleek and cuddly sense
Once off the fence for a while,
Out of the mob
And own his-own—
Though no purr—(yet with family inclinations
Soon controlling the house);

As I said, I’m no animal lover;
Would not think to go out
And acquire a pet;
But here we had case for fudge:
The stray having chosen me seemed
An honorable plea—sort of a medal bestowed,
I reasoned—a royal-badge of the cat psyche
So to speak; which, oddly enough gave him ultimate right to share
Everything of mine with me—though gratefully I must confess;
Even my favorite wine:

We made toast over many a glass:

Talked civilized and primal past;

Often getting our lineages crossed,
Finding more in common
Than one might think—
Especially this thing about
Brushing and petting—
For which we both admitted a fondness;

Myself occasionally sounding
A purr—he looked at me with suspicion…
With eyes so deep and delicious;

Well—enough with this
Sentimental dribble;
As I said, I’m not an animal person—
But if there is a heaven,
And I know, certainly, someday to be departed—
Between worlds;
Perhaps, Shadow, I named him appropriately
For always having followed me
Around house—warming my steps,
Attached to my soul
Seeming inseparable—
As I said, when I leave—and then if
Fortunate enough to arrive,
Perhaps someday I will look down

To see this little guy
My beloved Shadow in late life
Has now taken
To following me
About the sky….

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