Thom Gunn

(29 August 1929 – 25 April 2004 / England)

Cat island


Cats met us at
the landing-place
reclining in the sun
to check us in
with a momentary glance,
concierges
of a grassy island.
(Attila's Throne,
the Devil's Bridge,
and "the best Byzantine
church in the world",
long saints admonitory
on kiln-like inner walls.)
And lunch in a shady court
where cats now
systematically worked
the restaurant, table
by table, gazing into eyes
pleading "I'm hungry
and I'm cute", reaching
front paws up to knees
and always getting
before zeroing in
on the next table, same
routine, same result.

Sensible bourgeois
wild-cats working
with the furred impudence
of those who don't pretend
to be other than whores,
they give you not
the semblance of love
but simply
a look at their beauty
in return for food.
Models, not escorts.
They lack, too,
the prostitute's self-pity,
being beyond shame.
And we lack
what they have.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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