A neighbour, it was, who alerted us,
Alerted himself by the muffles within –
Apologising for making a fuss,
“I’m no busybody, and she’s hardly kin,
That’s why it took me this long to call –
If only I knew my neighbours at all.”
I worked for the landlord’s agent, so
I grabbed my coat and signed-out keys
And hopped on a passing 220
To Fulham, above the Cantonese,
Lift not working, second floor,
With a gentle tap upon the door –
No reply, except some mewing –
So I rapped again, then risked the lock,
Announcing myself and what I was doing –
Sudden guest can be quite a shock.
Nobody home (though the stench was strong) –
It turned out I was very wrong.
She sat upon her sofa, asleep,
With two cats guarding her, agitated,
The kitchen another three cats deep,
And a sixth who snuck in while I waited,
Calico, Siamese, blacks and tawny,
Most of them hissing, all of them scrawny.
I knelt down beside the tenant then,
Gently touched the back of her hand –
The coldness a jolt, but I touched her agen,
And all I could think of was all I’d got planned
For that afternoon – all now postponed,
While windows were opened and constables phoned.
The cats were making ev’rything harder,
They’d made a mess, and were clearly starving –
I found some tins of food in the larder,
The way they fell upon it was jarring.
Flies aplenty upon the ceilings,
I fought down all my nauseous feelings.
The undertakers had taken her
By six, so careful and so unblinking.
I stayed away in the kitchen, shaken,
Stroking the cats to stop from thinking.
The PCs left the place to me,
The neighbour popped-in with a cup of tea.
“I don’t think she had family, really,
Kept herself alone, poor mite,
Except her cats, she loved them dearly –
What’ll become of them, tonight ?”
I scooped one up to work her charms,
Into his unexpecting arms.
Another neighbour took another,
I badgered the landlord to take a brace,
And one to my less-than-happy mother,
And as for the last, she’s at my place –
This job, right down to its chromosomes,
Is all about providing homes.