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Cat Lady
(14 Februrary 1928 - 17 February 2004 / New South Wales / Australia)

Cat Lady

Outside the cathedral at five
the cats congregated and I was fulfilled
feeding them. I would shuffle
in my modest skirt and tatty shawl
towards the drinking fountain, its base
sprayed with the territorial signatures
of toms warmed by the effusions
of tabbies. The air charmed by a broken
mewing, the cheap scraps replaced
by a glottal monotone of purring —
my poor ones — so many types
of the single need. So many desperate
appetites. An insane male
human once accosted me
and asked why didn’t I think of the starving
children in South East Asia, Western Africa.
I said what if I did?
What good would it do them?
He jumped up and down and tried to kick
my cats. I am known as the Cat Lady
and not the patron saint of the world’s
starving, or this city’s.
It’s all because the sexes cannot
cease from procreating. I saw
on the television frogs copulating
in their green myriads. Sometimes the female
would die underneath the onslaught
but another male would mount her dead
body. In the park the other
day I watched a sick pigeon
collapse beneath the weight of another
then with her last life surge
somersault backwards and lie dead
while the male moved on uninterruptedly
pecking towards another breeding bird
I have no argument with people in other ways;
I move among them in no deliberate disguise
I am no cleaner than my cats. It is
my work to feed them, not to breed them.
Nobody else will help to keep them alive.
Every epochal now and then
I know who I am actually. I think
I know who I was in a personal sense. I recreate
thoughts of the past under the shade
of the cathedral’s walls.
I think merely of our breathing sanely together.
Only not here, not in this sometime city
of madmen and deprived cats,
where values are all equated with money
and the highest prayer is for power.
I have no prescriptions, interpretations, prophecies.
With no comment other than Share
I waddle towards my first three thousand years.

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