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When I was five weeks pregnant with my eldest child, my son, I became consumed with maternal yearning and adopted a kitten. He grew into an elegant, rather dapper little chap, with electric, almost blindingly white long translucent fur, and enormous, affectionate blurred-blue eyes.

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On a long walk in an old Denver neighborhood filled with staidly beautiful houses, I fought back welcome morning sickness as my husband and I debated his name.

Finally I came upon the argument ending moniker: “Miko,” I said, definitively. Of course.

House cats are a guilty gift. They luxuriate in endless stretches of sleep and lazy silken play, but they are directly related to animals who look like this:


Soon enough, Miko discovered the hunter who innately animated his bones and flesh: he wanted to go out. All the time.

We resisted. Surely our adorable purring woven-silk-soft kitty would be content to lounge on the bed, taking in the sun on his full white belly?

Surely not. Miko’s daily wait at the door reminds me of the incredibly moving poem by Rilke, entitled “Der Panther.” The middle stanza reads:

“As he paces in cramped circles, over and over, / the movement of his powerful soft strides / is like a ritual dance around a center / in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.”

Miko now hunts, his “mighty will” unfettered by any human companion’s wishes and fantasies. “Paralyzed” he is not, unlike his zoo-trapped panther cohort.

Within us all there lives a “center” in which we play out the “ritual dance” of our needs, our inborn drive to create, to destroy, to love, to live. How dangerous it is when the “dance” of the wait becomes the full content of one’s life, instead of the precursor to its actual unfolding.

It is beautiful to see an animal tense before the spring to sprint. But the sprint itself is where the meaning lies.