Saturday, January 21, 2017

"Cats, Remember", a poem in honor of the Women's March on Washington

Cats, Remember isn't a poem I wrote for the occasion. The issue of women's rights isn't something that was invented for today either, it's just an occasion that calls for a reminder that we won't be property, we won't be subjegated, and that we won't be ignored.

This is a poem about cats, but it's important to remember something that's been observed in the fight against animal abuse: cats, in particular, tend to be "practice victims" of abuse, torture, and killings for people who go on to victimize women. There are speculations as to why the cat, male or female, is the species so often chosen in this case. Some believe it's the cat's independence and refusal to be fully tamed.

Special thanks to the Gertrude Poetry Journal, where this poem first appeared, the Gertrude Poetry Award, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and The Blind Man's Rainbow where it subsequently appeared.

Cats, Remember

Remember the drowning,
young rough edged hands and drawstring bags,
the burn of  summer evening sunlight on burlap, thrashing
elbows and knees of eight siblings and a mother, growling,
angrier than a hiss.

Remember the stomach drop plunge into
cold still water and the frantic swish
of claw cutting faces, ears, paws,
and the cool feeling of blood
drawing away.

Remember the first to go down
sudden stillness, an involuntary twitch.
Remember when it was the one above you,
her weight like a fist, pushing pushing.

Pushing weight without movement, just the bearing
down, the still heart and heavy ribs above you like the collapse
of a tired house under the dark green weight of kudzu vine.
Just one kitten lump and then another, smaller,
more compact. There is no sound, only the silent dis-
solve of another lifetime disposed.

Remember this, when they feed you.
Remember this, when the collar clicks on,
when they stroke your kitten ears and pretend
to love your slick satin coat and
the white iron bones beneath.

Remember this, when it is time
for warm baths or revolution.