Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday Poetry: "The Mute Cat," by Les Murray

Consider today's entry a follow-up to Monday's post, a glance at a bit of what Les Murray can do as a poet, when not writing about mental illness. This poem comes from his 2010 collection Taller When Prone.

I'll admit that this selection may or may not have something to do with my long-ago conversion to the loyal ranks of cat-adorers everywhere. As a bibliophile and ailurophile (fancyshmancy term for cat-lover), I must say that my favorite stanza is the final one.

"The Mute Cat," by Les Murray

Clean water in the house
but the cat laps up clay water
outside. Drinking the earth.

His pile, being perfect,
ignores the misting rain.

A charcoal Russian
he opens his mouth like other cats
and mimes a greeting mew.

At one bound top-speed across
the lawn and halfway up
the zippy pear tree. Why? Branches?
Stopping puzzles him.

Eloquent of purr
or indignant tail
he politely hates to be picked up.
His human friend never does it.

He finds a voice
in the flyscreen, rattling it,
hanging cruciform on it,
all to be let in
to walk on his man.

He can fish food pellets
out of the dispenser, but waits,
preferring to be served.

A mouse he was playing
on the grass ran in under him.
Disconsolate, at last he wandered
off -- and drew and fired
himself in one motion.

He is often above you
and appears where you will go.

He swallows his scent, and
discreet with his few stained birds
he carries them off to read.


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