Bio Note: I am rather fond of cats.
Not Another Poem About Cats
Finally, after all these years, I understand: no one needs to hear about my cats. Not Midnight, the hellion I adopted for one day when I was 6, hauled home so she could richochet until she found an opening and fled, black fur spiked up, all yowls and hisses, leaving red welts on my skinny arms. Not Schnickelfritz, much-loved gray tabby, not Marshmallow, the calico who warmed my back in junior high whenever I lay reading on the floor by afternoon light, not Ebony, sinuous queen of our African years, not Rufus, also black but fat, last California childhood cat. Not Anemone, beauteous tortoiseshell, who hated me but would not leave, shat on my faux-fur bedspread, never had a purr for anything I said, criticized the wet food and the dry, never cuddled, hated to be touched, moved with me four times, an indoor-outdoor beast who stayed until invaded by a deluge of white kittens from upstairs, the home of mad Anita on Anita Street. Not sweet Nameless, who gave birth years later in an empty building near my home, let me find each babe a human slave, let herself be caught and spayed, came to my call for kibble on the porch. No one needs to know of silver Ozzie, dazzling in his bonhomie, born in an oak grove, who never lost agility or wit though he spent eons in apartments far removed from mice and lizards; or of decorous white-footed Smoke who loved me more than anyone of any species, stayed 19 years until her heart gave out; or of piebald Tuck who died at 6 months of incurable disease, who liked to curl up in my lap and tip his head back, purring, regarding me through half-slit eyes. No one needs to know a pale peach cat named Emily is twining in my arms, determined to disrupt what slows the head-rubs, or that snowshoe Raku is trying to deduce if he can worm his blue-eyed chubby self into my lap. People who can’t have cats resort to having kids, mewling beasts that can’t lick clean a single hair upon their paws, praised from first spit-up to last slammed door of adolescent rage, but no one needs to hear about the cats whose sleek surprising feints and arabesques do not age and do not pall.
Nobody gets on the table was the rule and then after years of disregard in pursuit of sunshine baths the law became no one on the table when there’s food on it and then it changed to no one on this end when I am eating and now it’s just please keep your face out of my plate.
The tail’s awake, charcoal line stretched out on tile, tip curved up then out, snakehead turning slowly side to side. The cat’s blue eyes are closed inside his charcoal mask, his face is calm. The sentinel inside his tail stands guard.
©2023 Penelope Moffet
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