Ode to Cats
The woman steps onto the back deck
with a flashlight,
searches the ground below the picket fence
but finds nothing out of the ordinary.
In her dream there were three cats,
including her own Ginger,
sitting close together under the fence,
transfixed by something happening
just on the other side, some animal,
Some commotion that was both intriguing
In the beam of the flashlight she could see
what it was, a snake almost hidden
in a pile of leaves, only the large head
Plainly visible. She told herself
there are no poisonous snakes
where we live, but for the cats
the danger, or the fear, had more
To do with being swallowed alive,
First Ginger, then the others jumped
onto the deck, seeking protection.
Should she let them into the house,
Until the danger had passed?
The tricolor cat
seemed ready to stand his or her ground,
but the little white cat, a kitten,
trembled in fear. Animals are no different
From humans in their ability to feel
pain and pleasure,
misery and happiness, fear and its opposite,
though humans have the ability to name
what they feel, and to stew over it.
Some cats are young, some cats are old,
some cats are tame,
some cats are wild, some cats are friendly
and some are not. Every unfriendly cat
has a story to tell, of what makes him
The way he is, or she. Friendly cats too
have a history,
which would include, almost without
exception, being well loved.