She was deeply etched in Egypt’s ancient marble
as oils of today are fluid in her image.
She padded about the pyramids.
She saunters gingerly now through the city’s clutter.
Mau, man’s idol, was molded into powerful figures of clay
much like the cat cast of this era
Guardian of Europe’s granaries,
keeper of dragon-emblazoned silk,
she sought, she seized, she slew.
For mankind, for her own kind.
Today’s cat wraps herself sinuously
around the hearts of many
reflecting her ancestral likeness being
lured into lotus-scented, bamboo-lined homes
and coddled on laps of kimono clad figures.
Lolling on Nippon’s silken pads,
she dreams of former hunts…vivid dreams
eclipsing swiftly from memory.
Soon the destiny of silk for future kimonos is doomed.
The feline is forced into freedom.
She is free today, free to multiply,
to starve, and to die
Sacrificial fires glowed in her honor
holocausts leaving only her
She was liberated from the ashes
by man, who lay helplessly embraced by the
Free again, to roam infested alleys in pursuit
of her natural prey.
The horror of the plague graced the cat with new hope
Cat; a fireside sphinx
A clown, making life her circus
Possessor of a mystery that has
resounded through the ages
Predictable, in that she isn’t
Eternally clad in her aura of dignity.
Sidebar: I wrote this poem—my first non-rhyming poem—as a class assignment for a creative-writing course. And it makes me sad every time I read it. Right now I have an awful knot in my stomach. In case you miss the gist of the poem, let me explain:
We follow the cat through history, as an idol in ancient Egypt. When Europe’s granaries were threatened by rodents, cats were set free to save the nation. They became beloved pets in Asia until the ownership of cats was outlawed because cats were needed to protect their precious silk industry.
We’ve all heard about witch hunts and sacrificial cats. Cats were thought to be evil and many were thought to be burned.
However, when man was in dire danger again—when the plague visited—once again, they relied on the cat as a savior. And she was set free.
Today, cats are actually represented in each of these scenarios, still. There are the coddled cat—thankfully there are millions in this category. But cats are still being used, abused, neglected, and misunderstood. And still, her sense of dignity (sometimes, perhaps, recognized as aloofness) is evident.