What’s in a name? Anything? Everything?
Gabi Su would say it only matters if it matters.
But she is a cat. Or she was a cat,
who has now been promoted to Cat Spirit,
Cat Mother, Cat Goddess,
Wild Cat who roams the forest
and who sleeps so lightly on my bed
in the tenebrous night.
When Gabi Su first came to me
she was called “Susan” —
much too ordinary
for who she really was.
But when I asked her True Name,
she said, “Who, Me?
I’m no one at all. I don’t have a Name.”
That just couldn’t be right. Even I,
a mere human, knew that and we humans
hardly ever even know our own True Names.
Her sister Sally was so emphatically a Sally,
diminutive royalty, that no one ever got it wrong.
Brother Samuel was not a Samuel at all, but
he knew he was Robbie,
Round Robbie, if you please.
But “Susan” — who was she really?
It took years to find out.
She was sitting on the arm of my chair,
half talking, half singing about something
complicated and long. When she paused
I said, “You should have been named “Gabby”.
She looked astonished and pleased
and head-butted my nose. Suprised,
I said, “Really? Your Name is Gabby?”
She turned her head away, a clear cat “No.”
Thinking about it, then asking, “Could it be
Gabriella?” Still turned away,
she looked at me out of the corner
of her eye and waited. “Gabriella Suzanne?”
Head-butts, pat-a-cheeks, nose kisses, all in a flurry.
We had it at last!
“Gabriella Suzanne, would you like a treat?”
The turning away of the head. Not right.
I sighed. Thinking again, saying, “Gabi Su?”
Another nose kiss and, tail high,
she led me to where she knew
the best treats lived.
But, now, today,
when I mark the stone
for her grave, it will be