City of Cats 5: sight, morning by the river and the sea Searcher departs

sight 250 words

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Cats visually sense world that, though recognizable, is beyond our usual conception of awide-angle lens. Cats’ directed vision surveys 98 degrees, cats’peripheral vision is sensed to 186 degrees. Cats can distinguish some colours- retinal cones are found for blue and green light, but not red. Cats’ head sways slowly side to side, fixing the exact orientation, distance, movement of its prey, and because of its extensive range of pupil fully open and reflecting, intensifying stimulus, needs only a sixth light of a human. Cats adjust to brightness by muscles closing side to side, as circular pupil becomes oval, narrows to vertical slit, leaving points at each end, then further closes eyelids. Cats’ eyelids are nearly hidden by hair but are protective only, closing when whiskers or fur is touched, as another membrane washes cornea and tears flow into the nose. Born blind, kitten eyes remain closed for seven to ten days, retinas not yet fully developed. Cat brains must learn to see, to correctly interpret optic signals, process lasting for three months until, as an independent adult there is perhaps no more vital sense. Cats see, as humans do not.

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morning by the river and the sea,

Searcher departs 2 750 words

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It is early morning, the time of blue shadows, when the moment comes for him to depart- a solitary, unpredictable act, an expression of freedom, and the birthright of cats. Amber eyes open generously for the muted pre-dawn light. He does not leave behind family or group or fellow travelers, for each cat knows no presence claims, true cats without presentiment act according to that pattern which changes for no one, follows future pawprints- sleepless night has brought him to docks, to some particular ship- was not, is not, never will be disputed by independent others left behind...

Swirling emotions recall his past, terrains of lives here and now- some gentle melancholy weighs oppression, and in this way he is aware of every sense he has known...

Fear. Pain. Grief. Hope. Love...

Is this what any cat travels through when crossing that final intersection, when the other side cannot be seen. He realizes this act is not in fear, is not in terror, is not in doubt, is not in fear of the unknown. He senses memories of nights that have led him here, how previous lives, and how spiritual transcendence, are no more than this dance. Humans are humans. His original mind recalls pity, but does it matter to a spirit trapped in human shell, forced to play forever losing ability to change the space of our worlds in such great technologies, forced to play this for they have neither senses required, nor born natural skill to shift time, no, despite all psychoactive substances to shift time cause only momentary suspension- then inevitably hastens final breaths. He recalls pity for spirits with reduced senses, who live with misplaced confidence that in altering their world they shift time, push mortality away, reducing time of energy expended for time consumed. Human bodies react by increasing stores of fuel, and so carry around more than ever needed as if soon to suffer a lack, not true scarcity ever seen in this world...

Fear. Pain. Grief. Hope. Love...

Dark van approaches down the alley. Passes.

He allows a wonder- if the title Searcher is ever be named or gift, sees now others will recognize that is his name, his function, in each of his new moves, in intention if unaccompanied by actions- in acts seen as unconscious. He names himself in each step that draws him to stillness. He has been here through darkest night, and crashing surf of emotion only now stirring humans in the city- he hears this and that, one, two, three, many alarms rousing those who wake earliest. He does not move. He shifts time to bring him now.

Love is forever a gift, a sharing, and never a possession…

Love... love is the answer, life is the question, love is the only emotion stronger in some ways than death.

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He directs sense of time forward- the inalterable past, the indefinite present, are nostalgic senses he will remember during quiet moments waiting on long passages of the ship he chooses, to which he will bring that important emotional gift- love- no less necessary for human spirits as food for their bodies. He waits for some ship to reveal its need, some ship momentarily rudderless without some ship cat, dead and gone, not yet replaced or abandoned for shore, the city, the suburbs, the river valley to distant mountains, the worlds where he has lived previous lives. He realizes that home, place to play, family of humans to care for him with all sustenance, food, warmth, shelter- such familiar lives as to him were no more boring than comfortable, no matter how often he could play through those buildings, those fields, could hunt not for food but sport, never required anything beyond usual kinds of cat gift. And so seas promise a change- not that he has exhausted all avenues of exploration of lands and cities, but he is restless, bored, and his spirit does not recall lives led aboard ships, does not know what to fear, does not know what to anticipate. Change, some search for something, for anything, for everything- this draws him dockside to watch humans gather into their floating cities- here, this ship- it lacks a feline presence. In innocent confidence he comes out from shadows and curls around the walking tread of this and that man, offering an imperious and demanding and usual call.

One man, darker than night, tall and slender, stops at his order and gazes down in question- burning, lonely red competes with webs of golden love searching for an appropriate subject- looks down and smiles in surprise as he speaks human tongues with that human nature of buried emotions,

New cat, man, we need new ship’s cat, hey, he has no collar- you hungry kitty, he says as his companion would try to renew conversation, but sees he has already left that place,

Come on, we have to be on board in quarter hour we cast off-

Think Captain will let us keep him.

Maybe, if he follows us aboard.

Come on kitty, come on...

He follows the two humans up the long ramp, hides in dark blue shadows as they hail others of the crew, as they move about with choreographed precision, all a team, all have their specific roles- similar to dogs, humans are comfortable in that system of hierarchy which is impossible for cats, exotic, fascinating to a kitten, deplorable when one matures. He is like any cat at first horrified that these many men sense of themselves first and finally no more than actions in an unseen clockwork, in typical dead technology, he would rather imagine such gestures revealed an organic metaphor but these are humans and only human constructions can describe ways in which they move. He is unlike any cats that he persists in close inspection, in searching out nets of emotion binding these men- however unnatural it seems, this way of being creates calming golden warmth from each, to each, answering needs at least for a few moments in pre-dawn light. He searches for a pattern, to find a place, this tightly bonding humans have fashioned to respond to individual needs and to a greater abstraction- they are shipmates- that brings them together. Humans are humans. He cannot expect to follow all these aspects of the ways in which they live. Wiser cats search many lives to know even what little he remembers before committing this life to investigation, how they attend, unload and on-load pieces of material design- whether in great trailers lifted by cranes onto trucks or railroads. Curiosity never kills the cat, only inattention, only willful ignorance does, and in questioning he again names himself Searcher. He allows a wonder flow past him as water down his back, a glimpse of all times past, of some times to come, when he realizes that indeed this is how the wisecats of the park had told him- there is worth in ways all our brethren animals live- even far from correct lives humans live, do not judge another yet, do not believe you will know everything by simple transmission from another cat- some knowledge is only ever known through living it. He has a presentiment that questioning is how one becomes a Searcher, as one becomes a Wisecat.

He smells miraculous combination of ship stench- of gasoline, of diesel, of human breath, of human sweat, of metal, of rubber, of oil- that will haunt him aboard until it is so familiar he ignores it, and wonders what defines a difference between himself Searcher and another Wanderer, for this is what he senses the previous cat had been. Wanderer is more intent on the process of looking for a goal, Searcher is more intent on achieving that goal. He muses on this fine distinction, questioning himself, for can one wander without a sense of goal, or can one have a goal without a progression toward it, these are his questions he sees easily one, two, three, as have occupied wisecats to all distraction. He finds himself now on the stern of the freighter, the humans he had accompanied convinced he will not wander onshore, and he watches ship crew raising long embarking plane because now all are aboard, no one else to arrive, no one else to leave. He watches the dock drift away. He watches the city slide past. He remembers his previous lives, a few at least, and tries to see a pattern which has brought him here to departure, to hopes of the other side of the world, to hopes of shipboard life through which it is clear to see how humans have remade the world primarily first for themselves and only incidentally, in gaps, in joints, able to carry all other animals surely they remember for all the one and one the all in the web of fortunate beauty of life. He is here, aboard, and senses how the ship is nothing but a human world, that for however long it takes to cross the seas and reach that other port he will fit into an entirely human scheme of our multiverse, that cities which await elsewhere will be cities and so merely extensions of the ship, though someday, one day, he will disembark and offer his next life to that unknown place, as he has already given this life to the ship.

He sits and watches sunrise out of blue dawn rise against faces of city towers he has left, how that world so familiar is already receding to just a bump on the horizon, no matter how many lives he had lived there, but such sense of loss is demeaning, is an insult to his powers of recollection. He will explore physical structures of the ship later. He will have the time. He will now explore the memories which follow from that city he leaves, he will know his several lives lived there, then, or even dreams of when in some future desired. He sits comfortably on a coil of rope at the stern of the freighter and shifts time to memories recalled with density and delineation of those moments lived- though he would confess, to respectful questions, that he is uncertain if he had there, then, learned anything expressible in sharing or indeed whether he learns anything now. He shifts time, vaguely troubled by such doubt, but it does not reduce wondering or uncertainty, he shifts time again- there is no matter, there is no escape, so perhaps it is better he accept its claim on his consciousness and Search for its meaning inexpressible yet insistent. His memories come clear and sharp as spring wind gusts by toward the city just left...

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He remembers life being lost in a suburban alley, surely this is his first life, yes, no, better not to know- for naming a beginning means acknowledging an end- of an evening after the rain, of long puddles, of mud, of gardens past the fences, of being now alone yet trying to return to field where his many siblings are born, his original mother cares for them. He is calling out with little hope of rescue. He is hungry and cold. And this is the way his first family gathers him in, where in concert with the family dog he will offer unconditional love and they will offer food, shelter, and human love in return. He is close to the family. He sees in memory how the males- the father and two boys- are strongly wrapped in silver threads of knowledge, how the mother is tentative at first but soon blossoms into golden warmth and nearest any humans come to love. There are many years of memories living with them, there is a pain deep, violently distorting in the youngest boy which none of the other humans sense, only following his behaviour. He sees the several young females who try to distract him from that pain while himself learns this is not a wound either he, the dog, the family or any other women can solve...

He remembers life under that city, the cold dark of subway tunnels and sewers where humans rarely walk though their trains thunder by repeatedly and he is one with too many other cats- one of the many hunted down by humans, one of the few who refuse to worship those albino alligators who rule the sewers. Death waits there. He remembers a bridge that promises transport but never allows him passage, is wet iron, constant in fog or rain, unfinished, never finished...

He remembers life in the Park at the center of that city, around the great reservoirs, where he did indeed hunt for food and found the place so abundant he would have forgotten hunger had he been born there, how it was a place many times the size of yard as that estate from which the mountains seemed smaller even as they ran across that entire horizon. He remembers falling leaves, humans walking relaxed with humans. He remembers life being backstage and seeing such wonders of humans at play with other humans, ways they could share senses of another, not as well as cat, not always, but there was the possibility in all their manipulation of the physical world, most clearly apparent in that great painting that demanded his attention so many nights, here and now, that serves an invisible and often unacknowledged function for their lives...

He remembers life in waiting, watching, worshipping those great cats of The Zoo at the End of the World to whom which all those other waiting cats make offerings unseen at midnight- even dreaded unreal un-cats, for such manifestation of spirit is more painful in falseness than our rightful rejection and fear- and it is only through their heritage is a world without humans known, an innocent, original, natural place humans have not absorbed into their cities, though their devices, machines, vessels and vehicles may be altering and poisoning all lands without ever touching them...

He remembers these lives with some residual sadness that they are past and so unchanging- but this is how humans follow time, this is a youngster’s thoughts who cannot imagine any certainty the sun will rise tomorrow, not he declared Searcher...

Fear. Pain. Grief. Hope. Love...

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He is satisfied that his memories are complete. This is not the end. This is not human story. He sits on a metal lifeboat box, level with the railing on the side of this level of the ship. As with any art sensed- any visual creation, any painting, any sculpture, any building, any story, any music that is time as time is music- each visitation, each careful recollection will render new wonders and new emotions as seemed then insignificant, are now revelatory. He has received quality rumors that there is an ancient city, across this ocean or another, with great population of cats, tens of thousands, living in ruins that mark back near the time humans and cats became first acquainted. He will search out this hope, if he must have any destination, if not all who wander are lost. He watches morning sun glint from tower windows as waves of emotions follow…

Fear. Pain. Grief. Hope. Love...

At this moment the first human who had summoned him from the dock, comes to him with emotions of golden warmth, stands beside him on deck and gazes back to the city with an unconscious caress, sighs, allows talking with himself, not knowing Silver does not see the city towers but looks within himself...

Look well, the tall dark man murmurs, we will not return for some time, yes. But we will return. We will.


230109/210815a/210831a

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