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Image by Akin

Chrissie’s Cat

Everyone back then had dogs, parakeets, and those dime store turtles
whose painted shells get slimy right before they die. I had all of the above.
Nobody had cats. Except Chrissie. She was the first person I knew who had a cat
and her cat, Henry, was so big and so black and shiny that we knew
he was actually a panther. How he got from his original home in the jungle
on a far continent to Chrissie’s house on Crooked Trail Road was a mystery, but
he had managed it. He was so large he took up the entire window seat
in the den, a sunny spot he favored. Lying there, he would sometimes extend his claws
in and out of their little sheathes, but I never knew him to scratch anyone.
He stared at us, or out the window, with huge green eyes that glowed in the dark.
Henry liked being stroked and purred like an Evinrude. I remember him stretching
languidly before leaping down from the window seat’s red cushion,
his powerful body making a loud clunk on the wide pine boards when he landed.
He was a nocturnal beast, disappearing into the trees in darkness,
stretching out on a limb, muscles tensed, lying in wait to leap
on an unsuspecting rabbit or a fawn. We would sit by the window,
lights out in the room, straining to see him hunt,
straining to listen for the terrifying sound of his roar.


Susan Wolbarst is a reporter for the weekly Independent Coast Observer in rural Gualala, California. Her work has been published in, The Ledge Poetry and Fiction Magazine, Naugatuck River Review, Poetry Now, Yolo Crow, Valley Voices, Eat This Poem Anthology, and others. She self-published one cookbook. When she’s not writing, Susan enjoys hiking, kayaking and cooking the world’s offerings in her three cast iron pans.


  1. Catherine Zickgraf

    You transported me there.

    • Susan Wolbarst

      Thanks, Catherine. Henry was quite fascinating to me, a huge and beautiful beast.

  2. Anonymous

    The Crooked Trail road makes think of Rowayton. Although we didn’t have a Chrissie with a Henry in our school/class, or did we ?

    • Susan Wolbarst

      Bingo. Crooked Trail Road is in Rowayton, CT. Chrissie was not in my class — she was younger.

      • Anonymous

        Interesting to see your reference to Crooked Trail.
        Ciao, Ken Wesley

    • Anonymous

      Hi Susan,
      Your name just surfaced in a FB post by Vrinda. I believe you and I were neighbors and classmates in Rowayton. SF has been my home since ‘72 and my niece has a ranch in Manchester, wavelength farm. It would be fun to connect/re-connect if you are up for the adventure.
      Laura Taylor


    Aunt Jane vert confused. Wee you in Germany? What are you trying to say?

    • Susan Wolbarst

      Not in Germany. Sorry for the confusion. Telling the story of a memorable cat from my childhood.

  4. Anonymous

    Hi. I’m a Wolbarst too! Wondering if we are related??


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