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U3A Writing: The Feline Soul

Vera Sanderson's poem captures the essence of that most independent of all creatures - the cat.

Before the record of our time began
A patchwork quilt of cats on velvet paws
Stalked down the endless history of man.
A sinewy, soft seduction clothed in fur,
Coated for all seasons of the year.
Cats of every colour, every shade,
A cacophony of cats, a huge parade
Of midnight black, autumn amber, winter white,
Or tabby-dappled like a moonlit night.
Russian blue, Burmese brown, mixed orange, grey and fawn
All matched and patched together in the dawn of time
Like the multicoloured coat that Joseph wore
Whilst drifting days away on Israel's shore.

Slit emerald eyes glow far into the gloom
Remembering the glory that was Rome,
Of Babylon, Assyria, Greece and Egypt,
Sharing the Pharoah's destiny and crypt,
The lap of gods crumbling into dust,
The mighty blades corroded with the rust.
Of centuries - of Arthur and Excalibur - his sword
She dreams. Her talons flash into swift accord,
Mocking the manufactured arms of death,
For cats have maimed and killed since cats took breath...

She wakes from ancient dreams with gentle sneeze,
Retracts her weapons to their velvet sheaths,
Stretches limbs and back and flicks her tail,
Transfixing eyes, emits a dreadful wail,
"And now I will be petted, watered, fed,
But try to hold me close and you are dead.
All things in my time - not yours, but you must agree
I have a feline soul. I must be free."

She streaks, tail up, stiff-legged, across the floor,
Picks daintily at her food, then to the door
Repeating restless wailing.
The moon is high,
And up there on the moor the witches cry
For their familiar.
And long, long before Stonehenge or Druid's clan,
Pied Piper, Whittington, or modern man
The cat sat on the mat
And dreamed of this and that,
Her whiskers an antenna to the sky,
And only she can know the reason why.
She has nine lives and six senses all aglow,
For we have lost our senses long ago.
And while we sweat and rage and roar and swear
And fling our hands to Heaven in despair,
She sits and licks and contemplates the fate
Of you and me,
So glad to be a feline who is free,
The squatter of our home and hearth and heart
Possessing, not possessed, right from the start.

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