The small and lovely collection "The Duties of a Cat" by Jenny Blackford" (Pitt Street Poetry, 2013, $15.00 pamphlet http://pittstreetpoetry.com/jenny-blackford/) contains a dozen beautiful cat poems perfectly accompanied by Michael Robson's illustrations. The poems capture the essence of house cats, living alongside us but never entirely tamed. The opening poem compares a lounging cat to a seal pup:
the eyes are wrong - not endless wells of tragic
black, but chips of blue-grey glacial ice.
The second poem, which is also the titular poem, describes seven duties of a cat, beginning with:
A cat must stand or walk on
every piece of paper on the floor.
The pawprints must be deep
and visible. Extra points for mud,
or if the work was due the next day.
I could continue through each of the twelve poems, celebrating turns of phrase or details, but will content myself by saying that I love these poems and particularly recommend them to any cat enthusiast. I read them on the sofa with both my cats draped on top of me.
--Mary Soon Lee
Editor’s Note: For those who would appreciate additional feline verse, Lee also highly recommends T. S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" and Henry Beard's "Poetry For Cats." Another lovely cat-themed poem by Carol Hamilton may be found in the Review here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2016/10/sometimes-sorrow-ends-in-golden-sunrise.html.
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