her feline pleasure uncoiled, rattling
beneath a palm on her royal markings.
But how I wish we could share a smile,
just a smudge of a grin, without the
need for the tweaking of whiskers.
Did she once have this gift but then
decided on subtlety?
Why for the sake of heaven do I
hanker for such a sign? To bury my
guilt about her quasi-imprisonment?
Because I’ve denied her the joy
of prising the head off a rodent,
or a hapless bird she’s courted?
Please, have mercy. Tell me I’m not
her terrible jailer.
If canines and apes can achieve it,
is it too much of a leap to frame her
laughing behind an excited tongue?
Surely it’s the natural step from the
diving and arching between my feet,
the motherly licking of my skin.
What did our forefathers make of
this absence of a smile?
Maybe she simpers in the night, when
the fire’s out and her life is being
contemplated: unbroken sleep, an easy
hunt, the reassurance of domestic
safety. But what rustles in her dreams?
Instincts we’ve dashed? Her family?
I guess I need more faith in those who
say she really is content.
© Copyright, 2008. Seamus Kearney.
(The photo that goes with this poem is a shot of Miss Muffin, our adorable Siamese cat. She was so well behaved, staying perfectly still while I focused!)