It was a tiny, pleading voice, hiding in the shrubbery, behind the green shadows. It began with a purr before rolling into a fully fledged meow – soft, feathery, invisible.
It was an unceasing vibration that traveled up and down the branches like light, mischievous fingers. Sometimes it prowled over the ground on silent paws. Sometimes it rested behind the dark windows, before beginning its journey once more. I could not find the unseen language; I could not cradle it in my hands.
When I came back to that kittenish garden, the voice was still there – demanding this time, angry at my blindness. This time I was able to see it: crouching in the window, posed like Lautrec's vision of Montmartre, as black as Jane Avril's stockings. Its silhouette was a tight shape stolen from an Egyptian cartouche – a dark icon, an ancient outline.
Shades of auburn gleamed from its back, where the black grew feeble in the sunlight. Its whiskers were ferocious – pale memories of ancestors that stalked and hunted across wild continents. Its red mouth was pulled back - exposing a row of sharp, white and curved triangles.
I eventually continued my walk, leaving behind the talkative cat. But I was also abandoning histories, decades, artwork, the entire natural world…bound together in a single insistent creature: and they were all calling me back.