Monday, August 3, 2009
Feline Metaphors Notwithstanding by Bridget Collins
Published in CATS Magazine, January 1993
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems (1916) “Fog” US Biographer and Poet (1978-1967)
I could not resist this story. Anyone with felines will definitely know what Ms. Collins is talking about in this story:
***Carl Sandburg wrote about a fog that crept into a city on “little cat’s feet.” If that fog had crept in on my cats’ feet, a panicked populace would have fled their beds, screaming, “Earthquake! Armageddon! The end has come!”
My cats do not creep or slither. They do not glide noiselessly or steal furtively. My cats gallop. Sometimes, they clomp. No brave, clever mouse need ever gird his courage to bell my cats. It would be wasted valor. The ringing of the bell would be lost to the thrum-thrum-thrum of the vibrating floorboards. In my house, “cat-like” and “elephantine” are synonyms.
Are you imaging that these two cats must be huge, lumbering beasts? If so, you are half right. They do lumber, but they are definitely not huge. Seeing them at rest, you might even describe them as slight.
Their mother was a dainty Siamese. Their father was an unknown, errant tom, whom I suspect carried either a Clydesdale gene or a primordial allele hailing back to the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
They were kittens when I named them. I never expected that the years would prove me a sardonic poet. I called the female Isadora, after renowned danseuse Isadora Duncan, because she was lithe and loved to frolic. The irony is that, if a dancer were to move with my Isadora’s grace, critics would applaud her mastery of slapstick and mourn with her the passing of vaudeville.
The male, who is coal black and all but invisible in the night, I named Shadow. In a darkened room, he is undetectable, unless of course, he moves. A cat burglary with Shadow’s talent for stealth would be well-advised to cultivate a palate for prison food.
When my cats walk across a table, the dishes quake. When they jump from a bookshelf, they land with a thud. When they run across the living room floor, each footfall is audible from the back bedroom. I have examined their paws, and found there no traces of jackboot or football cleat. They are both house cats, and so do not sport even a respectable callous. I cannot explain how they manage on padded paws to produce sounds one might expect from a shod mule. I suppose it will remain a mystery. For the time being, I will continue to live with the catcophany, and to laugh out loud every time I hear feline metaphors that liken the movement of cats to a silent, sinewy ballet.***
What else is there to say?