“The Cat’s Fancy” by David Berman

David Berman


He knows—he knows—the sink is where I rinse
off dishes bound for the machine
that once it’s filled will clean
them; years and years now daily he has seen
the process. Yet I can’t convince
him by unsubtle hints

to take postprandial rests away from there.
And it has taken years for me
to figure out why he
chooses this spot. What he would have me see
is that china and silverware
can wait: better to share
myself with him, touch noses, smooth his fur
and thus make both our mornings happier.

from Rattle #62, Winter 2018


David Berman was a wonderful member of the Powow River Poets with several awards to his credit, a fine translator and scholar, a distinguished lawyer, and a beloved friend whom we’ve lost to cancer. He studied with Robert Lowell and Archibald Mac Leish, worked with language the way a jeweler works with stone, and served as a kind of yardstick to the rest of us during the many years he graced our monthly workshop. Although he had published excellent work in three chapbooks and many journals, he left the bulk of his work unpublished, as his profession left him short of time. Several of us—A.M. Juster, Bruce Bennett, Rhina P. Espaillat—have acceded to his widow’s desire to submit some of David’s poems to the magazines we most enjoy reading and to which we submit our own work. These two happen to be about David’s relationship with his cat, but they transcend by miles the typical “cat poem” genre.

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