April 12, 2011

Dian Duchin Reed

HOLY CATS

Say you’re lunching on a bench near the creek
when three strays waylay you. The dainty
calico and two brindled males take turns
fuzzing your ankles, elbowing your elbows.
It occurs to you that these are copies of the cats
the goddess of Liberty used to reach down
to pet, the ones the Romans always pictured
at her feet. These are the very cats’ eyes
Egyptians mimicked with makeup, the eyes
of their cat-headed goddess Bast, whose symbol
was the sun. As you toss them small pieces
of your sandwich, you wonder if it could be Bast
who’s sent you this sunny Sunday, so unlike old
man Saturn, who provided yesterday’s saturnine
Saturday fog. The more you think about it,
the more you wish the national weather service
would bypass Monday’s moody Moon entirely–
along with Tiu, Woden, and Thor–and appeal
directly to Friday’s Freya, Norse goddess of
accurate prophecy…all white furs, platinum hair,
and cobalt eyes, her chariot drawn by two large,
gray cats. And suddenly you remember an old
Chinese tale in which cats once ran the world,
until they decided it was too much bother.
That’s when you stepped in, another story.
Say you get up now and go back to work.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006