Monday, July 11, 2016

The Kingdom of Cats (Poem)

We think the streets are ours, but we're wrong.
Every suburban sunlit cloister is carved up between the cats:
uneasy territories marked with spit-fights and scat
the caterwauling sharp in the winter night air.

Open half an eye and it's obvious.
The huge ginger tom that menaces small children, slipping under the gate
into the overgrown garden of the house he doesn't live at, but has annexed to his fiefdom.
The delicate, atonal tortoiseshell who likes to sleep on my doorstep
mewling for smoked salmon and finger-light stroking all day long.
The big, lazy cream and apricot boy next door, who rarely bestirs himself long
except to trot forwards to the spreading gum and harass the junior magpies in their song.
The black and white with the ruined eye, who patrols the back end of the street stiffly,
snarling at dogs and cats alike if they get too close.

If it were drawn on a map, the intricate leys of these kingdoms,
their fluid mutability, their permeability, their uncertain intersections,
would create a kaleidoscope of songlines in this undistinguished street:
called into being through the hundred vocalisations of the feline throat
given meaning in battle wounds, and marked with the pungency of piss.

The kingdoms of the cats, traced over the asphalt and lavender beds
written on stone benches and colourbond fences, grass verges and childrens' trampolines.
A suburban neverwhere, hiding in plain sight.

We think we own this ground, but we are wrong.

- Kathy, 11/07/16

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