I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.
— Rudyard Kipling, “The Cat that Walked by Himself”

I can’t imagine owning
a dog. He’s forever
a child: big eyes
looking up, ball dropped

at my feet, panting
drooling tongue, dirty paws
on my jeans, howling and whining
when I go to work.

I can imagine having
a cat. Not a pet. A familiar,
walking by himself
on the catly way.

     we’ll let you
     but only if we want it
     You can’t seduce us unless we want
     to be seduced
     You can’t trick or sedate us into it

     But once we let you
     we let you
     without embarrassment
     We yowl our longing
     purr our bliss
     without shame

     And when we’ve had
     enough of your attentions
     or you’ve had enough of ours
     we turn away calm
     to our catly business
     leaving you to yours

On the back verandah
of my soul, where love
and aesthetics meet,
there’s a cat.

He’s not a tame indoor cat,
a felis suburbiensis,
spraying on his Lynx
at the weekends.

My cat’s a wild one,
difficult to love.
Feeding him won’t do it.
He’d rather hunt.

The fur’s lush
around his ragged ears
but his teeth are daggers
and his tongue’s rough.

How shall I earn
the love of this wicked
cat? In which patch of sunshine
shall I find him?

We don’t find them. They
come to us. On the back verandah
of my soul …