No venomous snakes in the bungalow

Remembering Cleopatra

Bella Donna Michelini (aka Babe) has such stories to tell

A cat, an indoor cat, is excellent company for an aging widower in Covid solitude.

Since being sentenced to an indefinite term of house arrest in a bungalow bereft of human companionship, I sleep a lot — or rather I stay in bed a lot, not so much sleeping as just lying in bed, and when not in bed, on the bed, reading and perusing the electronic ether. And thinking. Remembering. My wife most of all but also my son and my two brothers and my mother.

And the whole time Babe is curled up against my legs, secure in the warmth and safety of my presence.

Babe, I guess like most cats, is a philosopher not a do-er. She thinks a lot. When she’s not sleeping, she’s thinking. And also remembering.

It’s amazing to think that I was once a reporter dashing all over the place, all over the world in fact, with tremendous energy, and garrulous and gregarious to boot.

When I tell Babe this she stares at me with interest with a look that says, Hmmm, that is interesting — I’ve got a few stories myself.

I’m sure she has. Recently, over several nights, I read Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ aloud to her. She listened intently every night, nodding her head every now and then, her eyes bright with recollection. Her lips parted more than once as she appeared to mouth the name Tivali.*

When I got to the final scene of Act 5, where Cleopatra dies from the bite of the poisonous asp, Babe’s look turned almost painfully reflective. I closed the book and she jumped off the bed. Methinks she needed some time alone. 

Memories from one of her nine lives, I reckoned.


* The name of Cleopatra’s favorite cat.

Cats in ancient Egypt were believed to be magical creatures that brought good luck to their owners. Cats killed venomous snakes and protected the Pharoah. Deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads. Many cats were mummified.

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