Shine of shadow on a dark window-sill
Through lamp-lit glass, barely visible till
The mouth splits in a miaow of reproach, white fang,
Red tongue; a grin of here I am, let me in,
Animates the whole couching outline:

Black pads, lips, wax-black whiskers,
A genuine prince of darkness, sleek as a ribbon,
Demonic, determined wrap of affection,
Triumphant treader of cold paws into human warmth;
Or close coiled to the carpet
Total oblivion alert
At a breath or a pin-drop,
Drops back to total repose;
Rivals Napoleon for knowing what it wants,
And Zen for knowing when not to want,
Withdrawn into a haunt of non-thought:

From all his ancestry how did he select
This glossed integument of perfect jet?
Dogs run to liberal mongrel, cats revert
Through bar after bar sinister to pure-bred
Sudden Egyptian deity, jade-eyed,
Careless of where it came from, a personal infinite.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 5 Number 10, on page 41
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