Cat principles

“It is a dweller of the forests… It is the lord, the ruler of the animals.” Fr. Bernardino de Sahagun

She lies in the middle of the loveseat,
her seven pounds taking up all available room.
She is almost ten, her vision impaired
by incipient glaucoma; when she breathes,
there is a rattle that presages death.

Logs burn in the fireplace, the fire warms
her small bones covered in fine white hair
with black spots, reminding one of cows
in a summer pasture. In her place that no one
has disputed, she is an island of quiet and loud

purrs, a dream of old Egyptian honors, Bastet
the goddess, and Mayan hunters, warriors,
priests with jaguar skins for the power of the lord
of the forest. Once in a dream there was a mountain
lion, guarding the Zutorth, power and beauty

in a perfect predator. “Tiger, tiger, burning bright,”
her eyes flutter in remembrance of the hunt.
When younger she has brought me field mice,
a garden snake, and almost snatched a bird.
These days she dreams of hunting for her walk

is tentative, if human she would use a cane.
She is a sterile cat, but helped raise
one surviving kit out of a litter, bathed, groomed
miniature fur, and later taught him how to ask
for food at table, politely with one paw held out

in silent gesture of elegant demand.
Of five cats she is clearly the doyenne,
they move aside to let her eat her fill
and drink cool water from a porcelain plate.
Her eyes flutter in remembrance of the hunt.

“A cat is a cat is a cat.” e.e. cummings


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