How My Life Story Wound Up in the Sentinel: NaPoWriMo 2021, Day 13


How My Life Story Wound Up in the Sentinel

Startled awake by the end of the rain,
I rise to the quiet push of air
against my face and brain. I light the fire,
then lie on the couch under quilts.
One gray cat lies on top of me,
and the other jumps up soon after;
so for this long time before full light,
I am a warm bed for cats.

They fit themselves along the curves of my body,
pressing into the empty spaces.
My shoulder and arm are tucked
and held in place by the large male cat,

my folded knees and legs
pinned by the smaller yet heavier female.

As I reach for yesterday’s Sentinel
and the crossword puzzle pen clipped to it,
the male cat spills from my shoulder and arm
and moves to my hip.
Forsaking the Sunday puzzle,
I instead stroke his soft fur—
this stroke becoming an addiction
to both me and the cat,
who butts my hand with his head when I quit.

With my other hand,
I squeeze words into the margins of the newspaper—
the only paper within arm’s reach.
I have filled the margins of page one and I am writing
over the picture of a Maine house with no power.
My ink partially obscures the name of the female cadet
who has dropped out of the Virginia Military Academy
as my pen nudges closer to the comic pages.

I am telling my life story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Over Dear Abby, my pen sails like a schooner.
When she says to practice tough love,
my words are over her words and my words say,
“I let the cat out
to the cold morning that fills the spaces
between the redwood trees.”

Five minutes later, he’s back again
crying at the door,
and I tell of it,
crossing the obituaries with details
of life in the mountains with cats
and a husband still sensibly in bed.

I write of rain that sits like a box around us
for five months of every year,
pressing our minds down to crossword puzzles
and mystery novels until,
huddled in bed under the electric blanket,
we find each other curled up
in the same cocoon.

His body spooned to my body
like a cat,
under the covers of rain,
we draw again into
the small bit of magic that powers
our crowded lives.

Outside, crisp air stands still, expectant,
as  from very high above, a squirrel
drops cone shards like confetti
from a swaying redwood branch,
her crooning forest calls
falling with them.
The sun is rising
and clear air beckons me to walk
to the end of our long rain-soaked driveway
to retrieve today’s paper.

In  the long hours spent awaiting dawn,
I’ve filled up with these words
the margins of yesterday’s paper.
I’ve crosshatched the want ads
and the “Bay Living” section
and the comics,

So that a  gray squirrel
zips across Blondie’s nose,

and a redwood tree spills its needles
onto Hagar the Horrible.

Somehow, my spouse ends up
nestled into bed
next to Dagwood,

and Cathy is almost obscured
by the curled bodies of cats.

Moving away from, then settling back into
this safe nest we’ve made,
I add one last description of my journey
down my driveway

and a life that for this moment
is released from rain.

And that is how my story—
what fills up my life—

came to fill up
the pages of the Sentinel.

The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem in the form of a news article you wish would come out tomorrow.

15 thoughts on “How My Life Story Wound Up in the Sentinel: NaPoWriMo 2021, Day 13


    My problem though is that when I grab a scrap of paper in the middle of the night to write interesting notes on, by morning I have a problem trying to figure out just what the heck I was thinking about. Thanks for your verbal picture of a sleepless night of long ago, that seems so familiar to me.

    You will not believe it but could not sleep, got up, petted the cat on one side of me, though she is on the bed she always sleeps just out of reach of my hand except my fingers for scratching behind her ears, the dog on the other side, who snuggles up closer having tucked up the covers like digging a hole in the ground, making a proper nest, and did not want to be disturbed from the warm pocket she had made. I went into the kitchen, poured a cold glass of milk and sat down to see if someone else was having the same insomniac problems. Wish we had time stamps on our post to know when and how such post were made, though this one seems to have from long ago~!


    1. lifelessons Post author

      Thanks, Ruth. Your comment would have earned me three dollars from my Dad, who always gave me a dollar for every A on my report card. Surely, thos two +’s would have counted as two extra A’s.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. kim881

    That is a whole story, Judy, so well told! Being a warm bed for cats is a familiar situation – mine do that too, fitting ‘themselves along the curves of my body, pressing into the empty spaces’. And what a way to get your story into the newspaper! I chuckled at these lines:
    ‘…a gray squirrel
    zips across Blondie’s nose,
    and a redwood tree spills its needles
    onto Hagar the Horrible’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Is there still a Hagar the Horrible cartoon in the comics? This scene is written from the point of view of my life 22 years ago. A first I was going to change the news to current affairs but it didn’t work as I no longer live in that place and my husband passed away 20 years ago, so the news evens were as they were then.

      Liked by 1 person


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