The Entrapment of Tillia
By Adolph Caso
(Dedicated to Glenda Bixler)
After having casually observed Pauline
Two or three times in front of her house,
For whatever reason, I needed to meet her,
For, my summer neighbor was more than attractive,
And the days remaining were few indeed.
On seeing her alone on her steps,
I went on a fast errand.
“Good morning,” I said, cheerfully;
“My name is Al”--never Adolph;
With the latter, I never stood a chance!
On hearing, Pauline,
I immediately told her she was beautiful
The following day, as the sun was setting
And the beach waters reflecting crimson,
There she was again.
With a single rose secretly preserved in the refrigerator,
I climbed her stairs in one leap.
“This is for you!” I exclaimed, exuberantly.
A smile on her face,
Taking the flower into her hand,
She gently brought it to her nose.
Un-hesitant, I clutched her wrist.
Bringing her hand down to one side,
I placed my lips on her receptive mouth,
The kiss is a moment of inebriation
That comes about without the consequences
Of a bonding Matrix, that assures re-generative life--
As opposed to Destiny, that assures death;
And, in between, Evolvement, which assures potentials of living.
The next day, Pauline was gone,
But that moment of a sweet, gentle, and innocent kiss,
Wherein, the body and soul come together,
Continues to reverberate in my being
To this very day!
The rose made it possible.
Outside, from my breakfast table,
This striped cat cautiously approached the door.
“Vieni, vieni, pussymao. Come, come,” I beseeched phonemically,
Feeling sure she had understood my feline lingo.
To no avail, she took off toward the bushes,
Stopped, looked back, and,
With a quirky little jump,
She disappeared into the bushes.
(All cats are females.)
Mornings later, there she was again.
Cautiously approaching the door,
She finally came to a sitting position.
Her head directly in front of the door,
She stared into the kitchen,
Un-aware I was hiding behind the wall.
After a few seconds, I gently opened the door:
I said in a low, soothing voice.
Notwithstanding my slight phonemic rhyme,
I reached out with one extended hand;
Turning her head upward,
She jumped to her right and ran to the edge of the lawn.
Once again, she stopped.
After looking back one more time,
She disappeared into the underbrush.
I knew she’d be back!
My plan was twofold:
To entice—really, to entrap her into the kitchen;
To tell my wife: What?
What did I know about this animal?
Margaret knows my secrets even if I don’t have one.
I needed a surrogate!
The solution came at supper:
After Margaret put away the left-over spaghetti
With its delicious marinara sauce,
Undetected, I placed two fork-full in a bowl.
Pre-destination coincidentally made Tillia re-appear
Just as Margaret left to go shopping.
Quietly opening the screen door,
Bowl in hand, I extended it forthwith.
Suddenly, Tillia paused; took a whiff; paused again.
“Miao-miao, putthimao,” I begged, shaking the bowl.
The sauce’s aroma having reached her nose,
She began to move toward the bowl.
As she came close, I pulled the bowl back into the kitchen.
But at the threshold, she stopped--
Moved her head from one side to the other,
Neither coming into the kitchen nor retreating from her position—
Just as with the rose,
The spaghetti’s aroma had taken control.
“Miao-miao, putthimao,” I repeated.
A sense of imminent victory surged within my body.
“Vieni, vieni, pussymao. Come,” I beseeched.
I immediately placed the bowl right under her mouth.
As she plunged to take a bite,
I pulled it further back, with Tillia in hot pursuit.
Unable to resist,
She finally walked over the threshold and into the kitchen.
Taking no chances, I pushed the screen door shut.
Instinctively, she lunged into the screen head-on.
To assuage the betrayal, I pleaded for forgiveness.
“Va bene, va bene, puttimiao! Not to worry!” I exclaimed.
I brought the bowl to her mouth and placed it on the floor.
She sniffed, looked side to side, and quickly devoured Margaret’s pasta.
Before I knew it, she was licking the bowl clean.
With that, I knew she was mine (if possession were possible)—
A real surrogate.
It took Tillia no time to respond to her new name,
And even less time to acclimate.
She followed me everywhere:
To the living room,
To the family room,
To my office—her favorite place.
And in no time, she began to sit on my lap,
Watching programs made for sleepy heads.
“Where did she come from?” Margaret asked in awe.
“And, what’s her name, anyway?”
“I don’t know where she comes from,
And her name is Tillia.”
“Tilia, Tilla! You don’t know where she’s from,
But you know her name?” She asked in bountiful sarcasm.
“I just made it up,” I said softly,
She could have said Pauline.
To Margaret’s happiness, Tillia was an outside cat,
Prompting us to get a screen door
With a trap door designed just for her.
With one gentle push from the inside,
And a similar one from the outside,
I helped her learn to move in and out with ease,
Rejoicing in the freedom to come and go at will.
What was my second big benefit?
Chipmunks, which had been eating my bountiful tomatoes,
Served themselves up as Tillia’s special meals--
Second only to Margaret’s spaghetti!
Not long thereafter,
That Tillia belonged to a neighbor down the street.
“She abandoned us--typical female!”
The woman admitted, sadly specifying gender.
So much for surrogate role reversal.
My inability to converse with Tillia
Made me wonder about the claims of those
Postulating that evolution exists
Between and within species;
Yet, evolution has
Neither affected the communicative apparatus
Of a single individual of a species
Nor any cross-over from one species to another.
Yet, Tillia, although always walking one step behind me--
Never emitted a sound having intelligence,
No matter how many times I said:
“Dimmi--Tell me what you’re thinking;
Tell me what you’re feeling.”
Like Leonardo, never loathing to divine secrets
From anyone or anything,
I engaged her in numerous conversations
Especially in my office, her favorite place.
Depending on her mood,
Tillia would jump either
Onto the computer table to stare into my face,
She stared into my face or head compelling me to stop.
“Dimmi. Tell me: What do you want?” I asked.
Her eyes beaming with intensity, I continued:
“Do you want me to recite my version of Shakespearean?
Or do you prefer Petrarch’s sonnet to Laura?
Thus, by shortening life,
One fulfills the primal goal of destiny?”
Was it the heavy rhythm in the English verse?
Or, was it the message of a doomed man
Battling his brethrens and God at the same time?
“Would you prefer the English lyrics of Coleridge?”--
I asked rhetorically--
I never understood his emphasis on rhythm and rhyme.
“Or, would you rather hear the lyrics of Petrarch?”
Not so much for the imagined perfection of his enthroned Laura
But because of his sweet new style
She continues to defy destiny,
At the expense of Petrarch’s constant despairing anguish
Over this un-attainable and un-consummating love:
To be or not to be!
“E allora! What then?” I protested.
Unexpectedly, Tillia emitted a single but weak, Miao.
To my disappointment,
I will never know, from any analysis of evolution,
Whether Tillia understood the meaning,
Let alone appreciate the sound of those verses.
If human beings do not understand man-made things,
How can animals understand anything invented or created by man?
As for Tillia, the only man-made thing she enjoyed
Was Margaret’s pasta--by far;
One afternoon, sitting patiently on the desk behind me,
Staring into my head while I worked on data processing,
She leaped onto my shoulders and wrapped her body around my neck.
“Cosa vuoi? What do you want?” I asked, looking into her eyes.
“Dai! Come on; come down.”
With her walking behind me, we went out into the yard--
A paradise of grass, trees, and flowers,
Every living thing, organic or not,
Is doomed to one and only one destiny of death,
With no predestination of any kind
Except for wishful thinking and hoping:
To be endowed with pre-disposed love
Between two beings or two souls,
Whether a love be fleeting as that with Pauline
Or be more permanent as that with Margaret.
Life is also full of un-redemptive degrees of hate—
The antidote to love and to fortune
In which a person like Pauline and Margaret cannot exist,
Love being the highest most meaningful attribute
Of the human being,
Both in the world of nature, with its bountiful living forms,
Or, in the man-made world of Petrarch,
With his transformation of a real woman
Into an imagined Laura,
Her ethereal image
Constantly haunting every cell of his body.
On returning from one of many walks into the woods,
I noticed a slight limp on Tillia’s hind legs.
“Sei stanca? Are you tired?” I asked--a sign of alarm in my voice.
“Sei stanca? Are you tired?” I asked--a sign of alarm in my voice.
Over the several years wherein she and I bonded,
I considered destiny applying to me only.
As soon as I saw, that her limping was not due to fatigue,
I took her to the veterinarian: deterioration of the spine!
Follow-up visits confirmed it.
Jolted, I remembered the same reaction
On hearing the doctor confirming my mother’s imminent death--
I realized the consequences of Destiny;
It also applied to all other organisms,
And by extension, to this earth, and to this sun,
And to all other universes in space,
That this space
Has never been
Nor will it ever be
Thus I gave meaningful substance to the adjective: Everlasting.
Dragging her legs in obvious pain, she passed through the opening;
She made her way to the grass without looking back.
Shortly thereafter, she reappeared,
Soon after, she awoke, crawled to the door and stopped.
“Dimmi! Tell me Tillia; what do you want?”
As soon as I stood up, she slipped through the screen,
Stopping outside where she waited for me to open the door.
She stood up and glanced into my eyes.
After meowing one more time
She turned and made her way to the grass.
As I am writing, I cannot hold back the tears.
Did Tillia become prey to the Fischer Cat?
Or, was she prey to cubs of the Red Fox?
Did she die as prescribed by Destiny?
John, my cousin, provided the answer
On discovering Tillia’s body by the boulder:
I noticed that bit by bit the water was already carrying them
To, who knows what destination?
Or, to, who knows what other form of life?
Upon my recommendation,
John dug a grave right under the imposing boulder
From which all life forms emanate.
After choosing a triangular rock, shed from its mother boulder,
We placed Tillia down gently and solemnly.
Then we placed the stone against the boulder
With its angled top aimed towards the sky
So that once, each day,
She will be connected directly to the Sun.
How could you know? But, you didn't really... I know that! What you shared with Tillia does not happen with every cat. Count yourself as Tillia's best friend and know that you were loved. As I write this, I cry for you, but, more, I cry for my Keithie who died many years ago... But did exactly what Tillia had done...
Keithie had been an inside cat until we moved to the cabin where I now live. He would go out for short trips but would always return...until the day he didn't come back... I called and called for him until one time, I saw him walk out of the woods and I rejoiced and called to him... But I quickly saw that he didn't look well, then noticed blood at his mouth. He stood there for awhile looking at me...I don't remember what I said, but it must have let him know that I realized he had just come to say goodbye... He turned and walked back into the woods and I remained there, crying, knowing he wouldn't come back home again...
Special connections do not occur with cats often, but when they do, and you lose them, it is just the same as you feel when a friend dies...
My sympathies, Adolfo, for losing your beloved Tillia... But, she's laughing and enjoying where she is now...that place where there is no pain...no more pain... Maybe she'll even meet Keithie!