My wife and I, we had a pair of tomcats, brothers, who were obviously close. We named them Philip Berrigan Cat and Joltin Joe Frasier Cat. Orange marmalade toms, they were. Berrigan was a little shy. Frasier was out there. We had them about two years when Frasier left us. We never found out why but he never came back. Berrigan was devastated. After a while it was obvious that even if he was forgetting his brother he wasn't forgetting his grief. It changed him from a slightly shy pretty happy cat to a somber creature who was much more leary of things and far needier too. If you have been around very many cats, you will know this type. They vary around the theme of not having enough something, never enough. Berrigan was that way after he lost his brother but not before.
To indulge like that makes one less able to survive, because the deflection in one's person steals from awareness and alertness, from engagement and commitment. While my cat had room to carry long term grief in this sideways way - even having forgotten the cause but not the grief - and it turning into something plaintive and unhappy but not directly expressible, so that it leaks and spills in odd places and ways. While my cat could live like this, a wild doe cannot, and my cat, had he been feral, this complex might have killed him. This began when he was not yet four. He lived to nineteen yrs, four mos. As far as I could see, he never healed. In the end he was deaf and blind and just really really old.
The Doe’s Sorrow
When I came upon the dead fawn my heart dissolved in the error’s wake and I thought then of the doe who watched her fawn struck down before her broken eyes. Driven to her knees, her dugs in pain, her heart pain throbbing and then she must bolt, she must forget and go on. This fawn never was.
Some years ago my poetry took on a mythic flavor and I became a character in my own poems, a mage, "the man of the Northern Wall". This apellation is not completely fictional. My middle name is Noordwal, a Dutch term for north wall, though in current Dutch it mainly means north bank as in riverbank. I was told that an ancestor, a Portugese Jew escaping the Inquisition, settled in a small Dutch town and took this name from where he settled, near the north wall of the town. I have thought for a long time that -wal meant wall, think my mother told me that. A linguist might say that my usage is no longer common, is an older usage, but then the Inquisition happened in Portugal a few centuries ago, right around the time the Moors lost control of the Iberian Peninsula and the Jews lost the modest protection given them by Islam. Now I write as this mage, my poetry persona.