The Ramingo’s Porch – “Emily” a poem by Bill Ratner

Ramingo Unknown Author's Immage


Emily the cat
sitting on a tractor beam
turns her calico head to face me.
She is nearly gone.
I cry for her as for my mother.

When my mother died
I asked my father what happens in a crematorium
picturing her in her sun yellow nightgown
lying silent, still,
flames reaching up
blue and fire brown.

My father took a coach-class flight
alone to Philadelphia
carrying a box wrapped in baker’s twine
my mother’s ashes
an angel food cake.

The lake place we rented
after mother was gone
had no-see-ums
that crawled through screens
and high-humidity
between bays and stands of pine.

Mother was long ago.
Emily was only recent,
her warm eyes regarding me
with directness, curiosity
a slow blink

saying I trust you enough
to close my eyes
and open them again.

We keep her ashes
and her plaster paw print
on the bookshelf
in the bedroom.


Bill Ratner‘s work is published in The Chiron Review, The Baltimore Review, The Coachella Review, Hobo Pancakes,, Blue Lake Review, Spork Press, Niteblade, Papier Maché Press, The Missouri Review Audio Contest, and Wolfsinger Publications. He is a nine-time winner of The Moth Story Slams. His spoken-word performances are featured on National Public Radio’s Good Food, The Business, and KCRW’s Strangers. He is the author of the National Indie Excellence Award-winning book Parenting for the Digital Age: The Truth About Media’s Effect on Children from Familius Press. More info:


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