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U3A Writing: Catawauling

So do you own your pet cat? Or does your pet cat own you?

Vera Sanderson's poem muses on the most enigmatic of all pets.

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 every season 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 multi-coloured dream coat Joseph wore
Whilst drifting days away on Israel's shore
Slit open emerald eyes glow far into the gloom
Remembering the glory that was Rome
Babylon, Assyria, Greece, Egypt,
Sharing the Pharaoh's destiny and crypt
The lap of Gods crumbling into dust
The mighty blades corroded with the rust
Of centuries – since Arthur and “Excalibur”, his sword
She dreams, her talons flash in swift accord
Mocking the manufactured arms of death
For cats have maimed and killed since cats took breath...

She wakes from ancient dreams with velvet 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, you must agree
I have a feline soul, I must be free....”

She streaks, tail up, stiff legged, across the floor
Picks daintily at food, then to the door
Repeating restless wailing
Moon is high
And up there on the moor the witches cry
For their “familiar”
And 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, six senses all aglow
For we have lost our senses long ago
And whilst 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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