by Plynn Gutman in honor of Lucius
He sleeps on his back, spread eagle. I put my face in the warmth of his stomach, white musty fur, familiar kitty smell. His purr vibrates my lips, my cheeks. Not a paw or muscle moves – utter trust in me nuzzling the most vulnerable part of his body. I lift my head, look at his upside-down eyes slanted closed.
Lucius, I whisper.
His purr, audible now.
Lucius, I love you.
Eyes crack open; faint flare of nostrils; mouth opens in a wide, fish-breath yawn. Prickly pink tongue arcs to the back of his throat; spotted brown and white ridges on the roof of his mouth look like a tiny set of ribs. Front paws stretch overhead, as the arms of a baby. Eyes close; rise and fall of his furry chest; asleep once more.
I watch. I want to put my face in his tummy again. Instead I back away, downy cat hairs tickling my nose. I have never felt that safe in this world.