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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)

TITLE: Sacred Scalp
By Emily Gibson
10/03/09


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The first time I saw him last year was just a flash of gray ringed tail
Disappearing into the autumn night mist as I opened the back door
To pour kibble into the empty cat dish on the porch: another
Stray cat among many who visit the farm. A few stay.

He did, keeping a distance in the shadows under the trees.
A gray tabby with white nose and bib, serious yet skittish,
Watching me as I moved about feeding dogs, cats, birds, horses,
Creeping to the cat dish only when the others drifted away.

There was something in the way he held his head,
A floppy forward ear betrayed hidden wounds I could not approach to see.
I startled him one day as he ate his fill at the dish. He ran away
His head flashing red, his back scalp completely missing from forehead to neck.

Not oozing or bleeding, nor something new. A nearly mortal scar
From an encounter with coyote, or eagle or bobcat.
This cat was thriving despite his trauma and pain,
His tissue raw, trying to heal. He had chosen to live.

My first inclination was to trap him, to put him humanely to sleep
To end his suffering, in truth to end my distress at seeing him every day,
Envisioning the florid flesh even as he hunkered invisible in the shadowlands.
Yet disfigurement did not keep him from eating well or licking clean his pristine fur.

As much as I wanted to look away, to not confront his mutilation,
I greeted him from a distance, bowing to his maimed courage,
Through wintry icy blasts, and four foot snow, through spring rains and summer heat with flies,
His scar has never quite healed, a sanguine reminder of approaching mortality.

I never will stroke that silky fur, or feel his burly purr, assuming he still knows how,
But still I feed him his daily fill, as he feeds my need to recall:
Each breath he takes is sacred air, no matter how deep his wounds,
Nor how much, because he lives, he continues to bleed red.


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This article has been read 484 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 10/08/09
"O sacred head now wounded" —different context but what came to mind as I read those last lines. As a cat person, I "felt" this. Well done.
Charla Diehl 10/08/09
I wonder if there's an analogy intended here: your MC feeds and has compassion for the wounded cat--Jesus feeds us (with His word) even in the midst of our ugliness (sins). Anyway, this is where my mind went as I read this interesting and provocative piece.
Mona Purvis10/08/09
Troubling, but in the way one wants to be troubled. Means we're alive and recognize the worth of each moment.
This is so wonderfully told. Thought-provoking. Very special. What a take on the topic.

Mona
Betty Castleberry10/10/09
This really gives the reader pause.
It's beautifully written with vivid descriptions. Great message, too.
Marty Wellington 10/10/09
"His scar has never quite healed, a sanguine reminder of approaching mortality." Thought-provoking. Do any of our scars truly heal (at least here in this life)? What a wonderful reminder of how fragile life is.
Joshua Janoski10/11/09
This is deep and is one of those pieces that is worth a second read in order to really take in what it is saying.

You made me feel the wound. Good job with this one!
Jan Ackerson 10/12/09
This leaves me utterly speechless and in awe. Unbelievably good; I'd expect to see something this good in a literature book.
Loren T. Lowery10/12/09
The will to live, respect for those who suffer, seeing purpose in every breath we take no matter the depth of our wounds. Wow! This spoke to me on a level I too seldom visit. Thank you for taking me there again.
Laury Hubrich 10/13/09
This reminds me of how we sometimes deal with disabilities in our everyday lives. Do we turn away? Pretend we don't see the person? Very thought-provoking piece.