How did you become a feminist/interviewers always ask/as if to say, when did this/rare virus attack your brain? — Marge Piercy
Dear friends and readers,
And today came the notice into my gmail from the Animal Hospital of Alexandria that it’s Clarycat’s birthday. She too is 5 (or 6):
Caroline was here yesterday and she took a photo of Ian enjoying his birthday by hitting a patting toy hung from their cat tree:
One of my favorite poets, Marge Piercy, often writes about her cats:
Near the end of your life you regard
me with a gaze clear and lucid
saying simply, I am, I will not be.
How foolish to imagine animals
don’t comprehend death. Old
cats study it like a recalcitrant mouse.
You seek out warmth for your bones
close now to the sleek coat
that barely wraps them,
little knobs of spine, the jut
of hip bones, the skull
my fingers lightly caress.
Sometimes in the night you cry:
a deep piteous banner of gone
desire and current sorrow,
the fear that the night is long
and hungry and you pace
among its teeth feeling time
slipping through you cold and
slick. If I rise and fetch you back
to bed, you curl against me purring
able to grasp pleasure by the nape
even inside pain. Your austere
dying opens its rose of ash.
I recognize Clarycat in Piercy’s Arofa
My little carry-on baggage,
my howler monkey, my blue
eyed sleek beige passion,
you want a monogamous relationship
with me. Othella, if you were
big as me you’d have nipped
my head off in a fit.
Gourmet, winebibber, you fancy
a good Bordeaux as much
as schlag, but would rather
be petted than eat.
You play Ivan the Terrible
to guests, you hiss and slap
at them to go away. Only
an occasional lover gains
your tolerance if my smell
rubs off on him and he
lets you sleep in the bed.
When I travel you hurtle
about upending the rugs.
When I return you run from me.
Not till I climb into bed
are you content and crouch
between my breasts kneading,
a calliope of purrs.
When I got a kitten a decade
and a half ago, I didn’t know
I was being acquired
by such a demanding lover,
such a passionate, jealous,
furry, fussy wife.
All three of us have been sleeping together since shortly before Christmas:
I want you for my bodyguard,
to curl round each other like two socks
matched and balled in a drawer.
I want you to warm my bedside,
two S’s snaked curve to curve
in the down burrow of the bed.
I want you to tuck in my illness,
coddle me with tea and chicken
soup whose steam sweetens the house.
I want you to watch my back
as the knives wink in the thin light
and the whips crack out from shelter.
Guard my body against dust and disuse,
warm me from the inside out,
lie over me, under me, beside me
in the bed as the night’s creek
raushes over our shining bones
and e weak to the morning fresh
and wet, a birch leaf just uncurling.
Guard my body from disdain as age
widens me like a river delta.
Let us guard each other until death,
with teeth, brain and galloping heart,
each other’s rose red warrior.
— from Sleeping with Cats