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Magic Cats

Gwendolyn MacEwen
From:   Magic Animals: Selected Poems Old and New. Toronto: Macmillan, 1974

        (With acknowledgements to Susan Musgrave, whose "Strawberry" poems started it all)

Most cats, with the exception of Burmese, do not celebrate their birthdays. Rather, they are extremely sentimental about Palm Sunday and Labour Day, at which times they survive solely on white lace and baloney sandwiches.

Cats on the whole are loath to discuss God.

Generally speaking, cats have no money, although some of them secretly collect rare and valuable coins.

Cats believe that all human beings, animals and plants should congregate in a huge heap in the centre of the universe and promptly fall asleep together.

Of all the cats I have known, the ones I remember most are: Bumble Bee, Buttonhole, Chocolate Bar, Molten Lava and Mushroom. I also remember Tabby who was sane as a star and spent all his time lying on his back in the sink, thinking up appropriate names for me.

Cats see their Keepers as massive phantoms, givers of names and the excellent gravy of their days.

Cats who have been robbed of balls and claws do not lament. They become their Keeper's keepers.

When cats are hosts to fleas they assume the fleas are guests.

Most cats would rather be covered with live fleas than dead ones.

Cats hold no grudges and have no future. They invade nets of strangers with their eyes.

The patron saint of cats is called: Beast of the Skies, Warm Presence, Eyes.

Cats do not worry about the gurgling horrors of the disease listed in catbooks, some of which are Hairballs Enteritis and Bronchitis. But they do become very upset about Symptoms, which is the worst disease of all.

When cats grow listless (i.e. lose their list) they cease to entertain fleas. They mumble darkly about radishes and death. They listen to Beethoven and become overly involved in Medieval History.

When cats decide to die       they lie alone       lost among leaves beneath the dark winds and broad thunders of the world and pray to the Beast of the Skies, Warm, Presence, Eyes.

Broadly speaking, cats do not read Gothic novels, although they tend to browse through Mary Shelley on the day before Christmas.

The only reason cats do not carry passports is because they have no pockets.

When a black cat crosses your path it usually means that he is trying to get to the other side of the street.

Cats never get baptized. They lose their dry.

Cats only perspire during Lent.

Cats have no memory and no future. They are highly allergic to Prime Ministers, radishes, monks, poets, and death.

Gwendolyn MacEwen's works copyright © to the Estate of Gwendolyn MacEwen.
The information provided here is by permission of David MacKinnon, executor for The Estate of Gwendolyn MacEwen.

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