generally speaking,

Today is a good day, raining slowly into thick air. Jasper in his orange way follows from room to room, repeating his words anytime something significant occurs. Merlot. Right now. Very good, but not until after the sun goes down, though that won’t be too noticeable today.

Today will be running on faith that the searching that happens when lost uncovers clues like you find in a word game, the kind you once played using low cunning commands and good logic to make your way underground. Here is a clue from yesterday’s lost, remembered on waking today.

A lion not tame well met among trees while wearing a cape leaves little else to say.

And yet.

In a book not easy to get is the following poem, read today for the first time, containing a line that months ago, if not years, rose up by itself to become part of that private lexicon lovers share when they are best friends.

It must be a sign, why not a sign, clearly a voice coming through to meet one spell (a period of a specified kind of weather), with another, to touch, to say, touchéI touch you. I am touching you.

It does not matter which line. (It is a private lexicon.)



(With acknowledgements to Susan Musgrave, whose “Strawberry” poems started it all)

Most cats, with the exception of Burmese, do not celebrate their birthdays. Rather, they are extremely sentimental about Palm Sunday and Labour Day, at which times they survive solely on white lace and baloney sandwiches.

Cats on the whole are loath to discuss God.

Generally speaking, cats have no money, although some of them secretly collect rare and valuable coins.

Cats believe that all human beings, animals and plants should congregate in a huge heap in the centre of the universe and promptly fall asleep together.

Of all the cats I have known, the ones I remember most are: Bumble Bee, Buttonhole, Chocolate Bar, Molten Lava and Mushroom. I also remember Tabby who was sane as a star and spent all his time lying on his back in the sink, thinking up appropriate names for me.

Cats see their Keepers as massive phantoms, givers of names and the excellent gravy of their days.

Cats who have been robbed of balls and claws do not lament. They become their Keeper’s keepers.

When cats are hosts to fleas they assume the fleas are guests.

Most cats would rather be covered with live fleas than dead ones.

Cats hold no grudges and have no future. They invade nets of strangers with their eyes.

The patron saint of cats is called: Beast of the Skies, Warm Presence, Eyes.

Cats do not worry about the gurgling horrors of the disease listed in catbooks, some of which are Hairballs Enteritis and Bronchitis. But they do become very upset about Symptoms, which is the worst disease of all.

When cats grow listless (i.e. lose their list) they cease to entertain fleas. They mumble darkly about radishes and death. They listen to Beethoven and become overly involved in Medieval History.

When cats decide to die       they lie alone       lost among leaves beneath the dark winds and broad thunders of the world and pray to the Beast of the Skies, Warm, Presence, Eyes.

Broadly speaking, cats do not read Gothic novels, although they tend to browse through Mary Shelley on the day before Christmas.

The only reason cats do not carry passports is because they have no pockets.

When a black cat crosses your path it usually means that he is trying to get to the other side of the street.

Cats never get baptized. They lose their dry.

Cats only perspire during Lent.

Cats have no memory and no future. They are highly allergic to Prime Ministers, radishes, monks, poets, and death.

Gwendolyn MacEwen
Magic Animals: Selected Poems Old and New. Toronto: Macmillan, 1974

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