That Saturday, the first in fall,
Had just enough of shade and sun.
We honored August's funeral
With a picnic by the Cresheim's run.
The woods were quiet passing through,
But for the stream, the trees, and birds.
Then strange! I heard a kitten mew,
Calling to someone, but lacking the words.
I turned and fought the underbrush
To find where that small voice might be
That cried such fright above the hush;
But it stopped as I went down to see.
We took our picnic down the stream.
Returning, I'd forgot that cry,
Or thought it but a morning dream:
You hadn't heard it; only I.
We scrambled through a leafy fall
Of branches brought by thunderstorm;
Then out she jumped, a frantic ball
Of gurgling, purring, rubbing warm.
She was a tiny, mottled cat,
A tortoiseshell in brown and black,
All ribs and bones where should be fat,
Begging us not to throw her back.
Her fur had traces left of gloss,
That made us think she'd had a home,
But gone before they'd seen their loss,
Or she, how far away she'd come.
A smallish house cat in the wood
Might last a week at most, or two;
She'd starve, or sickness fill her blood.
Perhaps she cried because she knew.
Perhaps she never thought of dying,
But only knew the place was strange,
Not home, and that it set her crying
At something awful in the change.
We picked her up and stroked her, took
Her back with us and brushed her fur,
Gave ears and paws a closer look
And fed her and smiled when she would purr.
We keep a place for waifs and strays.
It's nothing grand or glorious;
It's just-we've had our homeless days,
And lost ones found are much like us.