Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Love Me Love My Cats

Beautiful Beaumont (atop the table)
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"


  1. I showed Mimi the poem. Not impressed as I was! Twyla and Mimi thought the photos were quite nice and wondered if Beaumont had any touch-ups. (That is really a gorgeous photo of her!) Not to mention how wonderful Pine is looking...

  2. Testing!

    My sister wrote: "Just wanted to let you know I love your post with Pine and Beaumont and the poem is wonderful. Beautiful pictures of beautiful girls, too."

  3. The poet wrote: "Love that you are posting my poem. Your cats are gorgeous! I want to jump right into my screen and croon over them. Such eyes! Such fur!

    My dear Tobycat died two months ago...he was 19. His sister is still very much alive.


  4. I love this poem and the beautiful pictures of Pine and Beaumont. I can't believe Daddy told you that you would get furballs from kissing kitties. He had to know that wouldn't work for any of his girls. Mau and Napoleon send their love to their furry cousins and I have to go add to my furball now.