Yesterday morning in the kitchen we were talking about our old cat, Joe, and how at peace with the world he was in his declining years, which he spent in our backyard staring off into space, simply listening and taking it all in — the bird song, the sounds of the neighborhood, the opening and closing of doors — and what good fortune it was for him, and for us, that he was so calm and secure in his present absence and absent presence. He died and was buried on a cold night in November. I rake over him every so often, lightly, through the fir needles and birch leaves between the ivy and the big rhododendron, near the massive fir root that keeps his grave from floating off into space, and when I do I always think of him, his life, and his funny ways, and know that he too was, and remains, one of the countless angels in our lives. And anyone who thinks human life has more value than a fellow creature’s of this earth, is sadly missing the value of his own. But that misunderstanding can change in an instant, and will, and the revelation will be grand — like a poet’s cup of tea when the last and best of him is up in steam.