children's books
by Hilary Williamson

        Once upon a time
        (that's how stories start, you see,
        even true stories like this one)
        there was a cat named Sam
        Sam for Samantha ...
        Samantha Tabitha
        'cause she's a tabby cat
        with a stripey raccoon tale.

        Sam was a teenager
        (for a cat that is, she
        was six months old)
        when she came to live with us.

        My brother Kevin saw her first,
        heading home from school
        he spied her under
        the Christmas tree
        outside the front door,
        the one papa lights up every year
        top to bottom
        in shining stars.

        The tree miaowed
        and wriggled its branches,
        so my brother dropped his schoolbag
        and peeked under it.

        A wet nose touched his cold one,
        and a soft, furry paw
        batted his face,
        and his heart melted
        just like that,
        so Kevin ran inside and found me,
        and we brought out a saucer
        full of milk.

        Sam was still there
        the next morning,
        and after school,
        and the next day, and the next ...

        Papa didn't want a cat
        but our tropical fish all froze
        when the ice storm
        shut off the electricity
        and the fish tank chilled
        and kids need a pet
        don't they?
        'course they do!

        And Sam's SO cute,
        ... and SO hungry,
        ... and she chose US,
        ... it was meant to be!

        Papa still didn't want a cat
        but Sam was a smart one,
        she ran to the front door
        whenever he opened it
        for his newspaper,
        and when he came home from work,
        she purred loudly, she rubbed herself against his legs
        and miaowed softly.

        Papa couldn't resist
        her big eyes forever,
        how could anyone
        say no to Sam?

        Mom checked with local vets,
        and we put up notices
        around the neighborhood,
        but no one came to claim her,
        so we named her -
        Kevin wanted Samantha
        and I picked Tabitha ...
        but she's Sam for short.

        Then we took her for a checkup
        and the vet felt her tummy
        and that's when we found out
        Sam would soon be a MomCat.

        They call them queens you know
        for good reason,
        Sam's bowl was always full
        (she ate like a tiger)
        and her bed was soft
        and she got ear scratches
        and tummy rubs
        whenever she asked for them.

        Sam's belly grew bigger
        and she didn't jump as often,
        but she was still the best mouser
        in the neighborhood.

        Late one night, Sam came to mom,
        she bit her hand very gently
        and went to the door,
        then she came back and did it again,
        so mom followed her
        down to the basement cupboard -
        Sam wanted company
        to have her babies.

        They came out one by one,
        two black teddy bear kittens
        with white bibs and splotches,
        and two tabbies, pretty as their mom.

        We saw them in the morning,
        and when they grew a little,
        we cuddled and played with them,
        and helped one learn to walk
        'cause her leg didn't work well
        and the vet wanted to put her to sleep,
        but mom and I taught her leg to move
        so she could run and jump just like the others.

        We loved those purring kittens -
        Beauty and Jazz and Tigger and Zorro -
        and Sam took the best care of them,
        'cause that's what MomCats do.