A small black cat waits for me at the crossroads,
his gold eyes shining with wisdom
and a hint of mischief.
“Well?” he seems to say, “Are you ready?”
“Presently,” I answer, and hide a smile;
the twitching tip of his tail betrays his impatience.
Close by in the grass lies a viper,
bane to many but friend to me,
near invisible in the darkness, but I know that he is there.
He always is.
I survey my choices: four roads in four directions
shine before me in the moonlight.
One leads to the city from which I came;
the call of home and my familiar bed is strong
but I shall not return quite yet.
Another road leads to the forest and the cat looks this way,
anticipating, for he knows I love it well.
But the woods do not beckon me this night.
The third road goes to realms unknown
and I will travel there one day,
but not tonight.
For the way is treacherous, I am told,
and I know that I am not yet ready.
The fourth—ah, yes, the fourth path takes me to the sea,
through the marshlands and the fens,
lined with sedges and cattails.
My choice is clear; I turn to the cat,
“Tonight I choose the reeds.”
Gladly now he runs ahead, leading me onward.
As I quicken my pace to follow,
I glance back at my sinuous companion;
legless one, he is too slow to keep pace with my scampering cat,
but he will catch up with us.
He always does.
As I look, he tastes the air with his tongue;
I meet his eyes and hear his message
and I nod, for he is right:
Change is upon me and I must change with it.
So, following the cat,
I cast off my robe like a shed skin and run, naked,
to the sea to greet the dawn.
"I've learned so much from my mistakes...I'm thinking of making few more."