On the Authenticity of the Cat


Pat H. Fredeman

The cat caught a mouse today.
A quivering, then still, thing lay on the walk
Resting its head idly on its hairy throat,
Little hands clutched at things no longer there,
An eye still peeking at the handsome garden
Where it had lately squeaked about the chives and buttercups,
Now tossed from all that beauty, juicy roots and dreamy fluff,
Like a tumorous puff ball ready to be smashed open,
Emitting smells, and colors trickling from the ripe spring.

I had longed all day for a visitor
And snatched it away from the cat,
Whose yellow eyes turned green
And seemed to say, "You too?
Well, that's what I brought it for -
For you."

I held it in my hands:
Half-chewed bloody carcass
Of my cat's repast,
The torn fur numb with rain;
The blood curled slowly
Around my thumb
Still warm, without sun,
Dripping in a subtle chain
Upon the damp grass
Skewering it like a stalk on a new flower
Teasing the wind with a new form.

If I put it down, my cat will bring it in.
He lives in the garden and the house
And doesn't believe in the difference.

If I take it, what will the neighbors say?
They watch my cat and me.
But they too have funny ways.
The lady next door rips ripe melons when her daughter goes to a dance;
Across the street Mrs. Battson eats god every Sunday;
Irene wants my soul to come upstairs
To handle back and forth with the roast beef;
The landlord hunts for something more than rent.
The maiden ladies up the street
I catch sometimes sniffing through my window.
They all make noises about these things:
They flush the drains
Wipe up the stains
Overstuff the chairs
Sift rumours
Crotchet neat daisy chains

Go to church,
Stitched in new linen.

But only my cat does his work without ahems and amens.

Some sport, surely,
Some outlaw from the band
First looked up
From the blood upon his hands
From warmth to warmth
From red blossom to red sun
And chased the sun into the night -
    Eons ago -
    Then ran
A star-crazed staggerer in the sand
    groping upwards
     to squat on a green hill
    filled with rage
     and make immortal noises with his hands.

I laid it back upon the grass,
Chilled slight shadow of the sun
For its last visit with the dripping light.


Author Bio

Pat Fredeman has published numerous poems and some short, non-fiction pieces in various literary journals and magazines. She has done editorial work, given poetry readings, taught university literature and creative writing courses, and conducted community workshop courses for the regional branch of the National League of American Pen Women, of which she is a member. She has degrees from the University of British Columbia (M.A.) and the University of Oklahoma (B.A.[Phi Beta Kappa], Ph.D.[magna cum laude], Dissertation: Ben Jonson.

Ms. Fredeman's Christian Romance Paradise Regained will be available August 1999 from Gemini Books. Pat has recently completed a contemporary romance and a fantasy novelette and she tells us she is currently working on another novel.



"On the Authenticity of the Cat" Copyright © 1981 Pat H. Fredeman. All rights reserved. Previously published in Separate Doors, II:2, Fall, 1981.. Published by permission of the author.
This page last updated 7-29-99.

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