Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Cats

Freya

Holy Cats
by Dian Duchin Reed

Say you’re lunching on a bench near the creek
when three strays waylay you. The dainty
calico and two brindled males take turns
fuzzing your ankles, elbowing your elbows.
It occurs to you that these are copies of the cats
the goddess of Liberty used to reach down
to pet, the ones the Romans always pictured
at her feet. These are the very cats’ eyes
Egyptians mimicked with makeup, the eyes
of their cat-headed goddess Bast, whose symbol
was the sun. As you toss them small pieces
of your sandwich, you wonder if it could be Bast
who’s sent you this sunny Sunday, so unlike old
man Saturn, who provided yesterday’s saturnine
Saturday fog. The more you think about it,
the more you wish the national weather service
would bypass Monday’s moody Moon entirely–
along with Tiu, Woden, and Thor–and appeal
directly to Friday’s Freya, Norse goddess of
accurate prophecy…all white furs, platinum hair,
and cobalt eyes, her chariot drawn by two large,
gray cats. And suddenly you remember an old
Chinese tale in which cats once ran the world,
until they decided it was too much bother.
That’s when you stepped in, another story.
Say you get up now and go back to work.

–from Rattle #26, Winter 2006

by Cheng Yan

Posted with permission of the poet.

Thank you to Jama for the lovely Poetry Month spotlight!

Kate at Book Aunt has today's Poetry Friday round-up.

6 comments:

Unknown said...

wonderful poem. i have always assumed cats once rules this world and did their best to guide us but finally realized it wasn't worth is and found their zen place by letting us take care of them.

that's a great watercolor as well. thanks for sharing both.

Diane Mayr said...

These are the very cats’ eyes
Egyptians mimicked with makeup


That makes perfect sense! This is what's so great about poetry, it injects little bits of information or speculation in your brain--something to ponder later.

Tara said...

And suddenly you remember an old
Chinese tale in which cats once ran the world,
until they decided it was too much bother.

I thought of my two worldly and very bored cats - they could certainly rule the world, if they could be bothered! Thanks for sharing this!

Mary Lee said...

Our big orange and white cat rules HIS world, although he does leave the rest of it to us!

Great poem and great art -- you always pick 'em!!

Mary Lee said...

PS -- love your feature at Jama's!!

laurasalas said...

I almost skipped this because poems that are one great block of text don't visually appeal to me. I can't help it--it's a visceral response! But I'm so glad I read this. I love the wordplay and the little facts strewn without. Enough within my knowledge that I got the allusions/references, but far enough out of my normal everyday thoughts that they made my brain tingle! (And, of course, there's the fact that I love cats.)

Thanks for sharing this! I'm going to go put her book on reserve at the library!