12 September 2006

Pattiann Rogers

[from Pattiann Rogers's Firekeeper: New and Selected Poems, 1994]

Without Violence

That cat who comes during sleep, quiet
On his cushioned claws, without violence,
Who enters the house with a low warm rattle
In his throat; that cat who has been said
To crawl into a baby’s crib without brushing
The bars, to knit his paws on the pale
Flannel of the infant’s nightdress, to settle
In sleep chin to chin with the dear one
And softly steal the child’s breath
Without malice, as easily as pulling
A silk scarf completely through a gold ring;

The same cat who has been known to nudge
Through castle doors, to part tent flaps,
To creep to the breasts of brave men,
Ease between their blankets, to stretch
Full length on the satin bodices of lovely
Women, to nuzzle their cheeks with his great
Feline mane; it was that cat who leaped last night
Through the west window of father’s bedroom,
Who chose to knead his night’s rest on my father’s
Shoulder, who slept well, breathing deeply,
Leaving just before dawn to saunter toward
The north, his magnificent tail and rump
Swaying with a listless and gorgeous grace.

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