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2023-01-22 - 1:41 p.m.

Just now, at the back door, feet on the cold side of that sliding glass, a red-tailed hawk on our little fence, staring in, down, at the little gray cat sitting, staring up, predator eyes locked onto predator eyes. The cat is a vagabond, like many cats in this world are, dropped off here in those early pandemic days, by a friend. She was supposed to live here for just a few weeks, but then it was months, and now she's here for good, or at least for as far off as we can see. She has things to scratch here, food to eat, stretched-out laps to nap on. Quickly, as happens, we came to love her, and, now, these hours since the hawk, all winged death, has flown off, I think about how this little gray cat likes to sneak outside behind me when I go out back, for a book by the chiminea, and I think about how, every now and then, she slinks out without me even noticing. Always, I think: what you hear about cats, it's all true. On those out-back nights, I'll be there, one side warm, the other side cold, and I hear a scratch, over there by the grass in the planter that hasn't died this far into January. And I'll think: you little slinker, you little bit of warm gray, I hope you're safe out here, that little heartbeat, that soft belly, in all this cold. And then I go back to the book.

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