Not So Much the Cats

“Somewhere in the universe,

in the gallery of important things,

the babyish owl, ruffled and rakish

sits on its pedestal.”

                        Mary Oliver

Dogs are there, in the gallery of important things, and birds – but not so much the cats. The cats, who never listen, and love me only when I feed them and even then it depends on wet or dry food, fish or chicken, and whether or not there is milk.

Not so much the cats, who stare into the house with their startling green eyes and standoffish whiskers and long Russian chess master eyebrows, and how all they want is to come in until you let them in and then all they want is to go out, so you let them out, which is when you realize all they want is a bowl of milk and so you give them one and then they finish it and stare at you until finally you know they really want something else altogether, something simple, like eternal life or wings.

Not so much the cats, the way they will take on the dog who is ten times their size, and then feel no shame at pouncing on a songbird that has just slammed into a window.

Nor the way they lie on the porch absorbing the heat, or stretching every muscle as if this was all that mattered (and now we get to the root of the problem).

No, in fact, not the cats at all, the way one carefully attends to a spot behind the ear that the other can’t reach, so tender with each other, so determined to ignore me.

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