Women who live with cats

Glenda Zumwalt

We cannot escape the cats who want us,
the cats that call us. We think we hear silence,
cannot say why one day we get another,
why we detour by a shelter or to the home
of a woman who breeds llamas and Siamese.
Six of my cats have come to me,
called me to the porch,
strolled in the open door.

Long ago they used to burn us,
those of us whom cats prefer,
but what can do? When the cat calls
we come to that which knows something
about us, each one knowing a different thing,
a thing we will need to learn.

Cats prepare you for their truths.
They wash your hair.
They check your breath,
knowing where the soul lives.
A cat meows until you learn to speak,
purrs foreshadowings, waits with patience
beyond the reach of zen. A cat loves you
the way a dog cannot
with the fierceness of saints,
with the indifference of a child.
A cat knows you for who you are.

Those whom cats do not choose
mumble right man say dirty houses
rant foolishcrazyloon.
Sisters, do not listen. The cats do not.
Remember the grandmother they burned.
Let her speak. Listen to the cat and know
yourself a witch, a woman
in the company of strange familiars


The 2River View, 2_4 (Summer 1998)