Friday, 9 May 2014

Observations on the Human Nature of Cats

When I was much younger (I was born in 1945) I used to play with a local stray cat that would cadge food, shelter, and affection from just about anyone, until it grew old and didn’t want to do much other than laze around yawning for much of the time.  Every now and then, though, it would throw me a knowing look as if to say, ‘I may be getting old, but I can still climb trees in my sleep. One day you’ll know what I mean.’

Yes, well, that cat never said a truer word…

[Photo from the Internet]

No feeble cat, I haunt people and places
I have loved, glimpse in smiling faces
a hint of pain and weariness but quickly
overcome by a strength of spirit
and zest for life, feeding me the same
though I am lost for words, cannot
name this feeling in me that puts a spring
in my step, clears blurred vision, warming
bones that have seen better days

Home cat, alley cat, pedigree, strayed,
pacing the same boundaries laid
when the appetite for territory strong
and I made my presence felt among
peers, not always for the best of reasons
it has to be said, but my seasons
well spent, better instincts no less reliable
for feeling my way when Top Cat disagrees
for seeing, sadly, through misty eyes

To each living thing, a time must come
to set the spirit free, surrender
all temporal claim to a body seen us
through good times and bad,
made grave mistakes, done us proud,
no undoing or (ever) going back, 
on chances given us to make amends, 
live and let live among old enemies, never
having to forgive old friends

Black cat, white cat, tricks of light;
tiger, tiger, burning bright…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem (under the title Year of the Cat) appears in 1st editions of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

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