after "Fight with the Crew" from The Schooner Flight by Derek Walcott:
Training the Cat
The cat was raised by us, found soaking in the rain—
following the track of her starved viral mother
with a coat speckled calico, one beige toe.
She weighed nine ounces. We bottle-fed her to start,
still she sucks our fingers. We lived alone on a farm,
miles from town, saw a neighbor a week
or no one, until one year, we moved back
to society, and traffic and many loud noises
sending her dusting the floor under beds, “Come out.”
We changed her diet from generic chow to Friskies
because we shopped at markets, not farm stores.
Many times she was gone all day, me calling—
hoping nothing bad happened. Still, she triumphed,
came to know two parrots, the next-door dog,
learned to run in and out the cat door;
pretty soon, other cats came along too,
forced a change of rules: “You sleep with us at night.”
She lay waiting in windows, snick-snicked at doves,
chased her tail round and round, made us laugh—
after all, the kitten lives inside somewhere.
Only the open meadows of the many-acred farm
meant we never saw her winding in circles of joy,
not until we realigned her, made her an urban pet.