my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

About Cats (not really)

Having seen the post for dogs, cats were clamoring for equal attention.


A cat can draw
the blinds
behind her eyes
whenever she
decides. Nothing
alters in the stare
itself but she's
not there. Likewise
a future can occlude:
still sitting there,
doing nothing rude.

Kay Ryan

Reading Ryan’s poem, A Cat/A Future, I was reminded of Against Certainty. Just when you think you have life figured out, you put things in order and establish a routine and structure, a new reality hits you between the eyes and you’re back to square one, scrambling to keep your head above the surface. Is Hirschfield suggesting the cat makes no such assumptions but patiently waits for what comes? They each seem to see qualities in cats that we can learn from.

Hirshfield has devoted much of her life to Zen Buddhism. For me, her poetry is very deep and thought provoking, not easily understood. But when I am able to digest certain phrases, I feel enlightened.

Against Certainty 

There is something out in the dark that wants to correct us.
Each time I think “this,” it answers “that.”
Answers hard, in the heart-grammar’s strictness.

If I then say “that,” it too is taken away.

Between certainty and the real, an ancient enmity.
When the cat waits in the path-hedge,
no cell of her body is not waiting.
This is how she is able so completely to disappear.

I would like to enter the silence portion as she does.

To live amid the great vanishing as a cat must live,
one shadow fully at ease inside another.
Jane Hirshfield

Then I looked for another poem, one really about cats. I think the ending ties this poem to the other two.

The Cat's Song

Mine, says the cat, putting out his paw of darkness.
My lover, my friend, my slave, my toy, says
the cat making on your chest his gesture of drawing
milk from his mother's forgotten breasts.

Let us walk in the woods, says the cat.
I'll teach you to read the tabloid of scents,
to fade into shadow, wait like a trap, to hunt.
Now I lay this plump warm mouse on your mat.

You feed me, I try to feed you, we are friends,
says the cat, although I am more equal than you.
Can you leap twenty times the height of your body?
Can you run up and down trees? Jump between roofs?

Let us rub our bodies together and talk of touch.
My emotions are pure as salt crystals and as hard.
My lusts glow like my eyes. I sing to you in the mornings
walking round and round your bed and into your face.

Come I will teach you to dance as naturally
as falling asleep and waking and stretching long, long.
I speak greed with my paws and fear with my whiskers.
Envy lashes my tail. Love speaks me entire, a word

of fur. I will teach you to be still as an egg
and to slip like the ghost of wind through the grass.

Marge Piercy

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