and Queenly Pine (under the table)
(named for the streets on which we lived in Philadelphia)
Why I Write About Them
I like how the black one sits on our dining room table
with her forearms straight out in front of her, like a sphinx.
I like how the lids of her green eyes
grow heavy when I compliment her,
and how her brother, who is corpulent,
sways from side to side as he walks
with an elephant's slow grace.
Sometimes when he is sleeping in his basket,
warm belly rising like a croissant,
mere purring cannot express his bliss
and he begins to hum.
And the female, who misleads
with her queenly profile,
moans loud with contentment at night--
long, irritating moans, like Keith Jarrett*
making love to his piano keys at a jazz concert --
that sink into growls
when she is nudged awake.
I like how their own sneezes
astonish them: how they shake their heads afterwards
with the shock of cartoon characters.
How they lean forward politely, nostrils quivering,
to smell a bare finger,
are lions suddenly when they yawn.
(I like how each yawn ends with an elegant smack,
as if a slim compact were being snapped shut.)
They ignore my bad habits.
They endure my wild kisses.
They are not metaphors for anything.
~Francine Marie Tolf, Contemporary American Poet
I came across this enchanting poem in the Fall 2007 edition of my favorite poetry magazine, Plainsongs, published out of Hastings College, Nebraska.
If you've ever loved a cat or two, you'll know right away that Tolf has captured their proud and lazy essence with feline perfection. I've been bestowing wild kisses upon cats since I was nine years old and my father warned me that kissing the kittens would give me a furball in my stomach. Haha! Funny Daddy!
*Listen to Keith Jarrett
play "Autumn Leaves"