I have pictures

Thousands of them

Your eyes bright against your dark fur and gleaming nose, a dozen different shades of black

A few of them – very few

capture your calm demeanor

give a glimpse of your innate, inherent, perpetual beauty

at least that’s how you always looked to me

always

you were always such a handsome cat.

 

I have physical mementos

a pill bottle full of your whiskers

I was always delighted when I found one

and I kept every single one.

A few of them are the white ones – first one, then two – those were hard to come by

I would see that you had lost one and would hope to find it

I still remember the day you shed one into my hand as I scratched your chin

as if to say, “There, it’s yours. Indisputably mine. Keep scratching.”

I have the card from your cage

the tag they sent you home with, almost nineteen years ago! with just a number on it

the tags from several moves, the ticket from the plane ride that says “excess baggage”

an old collar; bits of fur; even a sheath from one of your claws

it was the closest I could get to keeping one of your paws

because I always loved your paws

big, soft black velvet paws, with black gorilla pads

you only ever scratched me once,

and that was trying to get away, in pain not anger

 

I have stories

the way we met,

the way you got your name

I still have no idea where it came from

I just said, “Morgan. Is that your name?” and it was perfect for you.

 

But forever I will sorely miss

the smell of your fur

I thought about it for years

but I could never figure out how to hold on to that once you were gone

the day you died I cried too much

so I could hardly smell it

and the feel of it against my face

thick and soft and warm

at the end it was the only thing you had left to give

even after you were dead

I cried and kissed your head and sniffed deeply in your fur, as hard as I could

just once more

once more

then I let them take your shell away

even though it still contained

the precious scent of a cat