New poem, “Belly”

Show me your soft belly,
tender, warm, vulnerable.
Roll on over and relax,
stretch out here in my arms,
like a shy cat, trusting
I’d never cause any harm.
Show me the secret spots,
forgotten and afraid,
hurt, hollow, or hungry,
as I’ve never shown mine -
then maybe, I’ll do the same.

Even after four years of domestic ease, the youngest of my three cats retains something of her feral life as a kitten. It took a long time to gain her trust, and every now and then there are moments when I still see the wildness in her. But I know she feels safe and loved when she stretches out and lets me rub her stomach.

For a cat, that’s often a big deal. And I was reminded that it’s a pretty big deal for me, too, letting another person in, relaxing enough to allow such vulnerability and exposure. It seems to be getting harder as time goes on.

But I think I know when I feel comfortable enough to do that, I’m in a pretty good place with someone. And like I learned with my cat, such trust comes only with time.