Herding Cats

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Herding Cats

Finley herds cats. At least, she thinks she does.
She spots them with an eager eagle eye,
then herds them, Murdoch, Logan, and Jenkins.

Murdoch sleeps on top of the cabinet.
“Come down,” Finley shrieks. Logan seems to sleep
beneath the settee. “Come out,” Finley pleads.

Jenkins catalogues himself between books.
Finley can’t find him. She climbs on a stool.
Murdoch opens a round grey eye, checks the
distance between them, and goes back to sleep.

Finley gets down from the stool and searches
for Logan and Jenkins. They have disappeared.

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Commentary: Finley loves cats and misses the three she has left behind her in Ottawa. She wants to cuddle Princess Squiffy but Princess Squiffy aka Vomit does not like noisy little girls who pursue her shrieking loudly. Result: we have hardly seen PS for nearly a week. She hides throughout the day in those mysterious priest-holes known only to catholics and cats, and waits for nightfall and an almost quiet house. Soft and silent, she emerges from the shadows where she has been hiding to sleep at the foot of the bed.

PS doesn’t love me either, but she has become so needy of quiet, respectful human contact that she has started to tolerate me, just a little bit. She raises her ears instead of flattening them and plumes out her tail, just to encourage me. Now she permits me to touch her gently and scratch her in her favorite spots, behind the ears and at the root of the tail. I look on this as a great favor … but I still think she scorns me completely, showering me with  total disdain most of the time.

“Moo,” Finley asks me. “Do you have a pussy cat?”
“Yes, Finley.”
“Where is she?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is she hiding?”
“Yes, Finley.”
“Can I see her?”
“If you can find her …”

And the great cat hunt begins: upstairs, downstairs, in my lady’s chamber. Goose steps everywhere, but there is no sign of the cat.

“Moo.”
“Yes, Finley.”
“Are you sure you’ve got a cat?”
“Yes, Finley. I’m sure.”
“I want to play with her.”
“I’m sure she’ll come out and play with you one day soon.”
“I don’t think you’ve got a cat, Moo.”

Seeing is believing / ver es creer. Whether seeing is believing, or not, what we don’t want to see is A’r gath wedi sgrapo Finley bach / the cat has scratched little Finley. Oh the joys of learning Welsh, especially as the day drags on, the cat cannot be found, and Mae’r baban yn y crud yn crio / the baby in the cradle is crying and tears of sadness blend slowly into snores, as the cat creeps up from her hiding place in the basement, pushes open the door, mews for her last food, and cuddles up beside me on the chair beside which I type.

Here is a link to Sosban Fach sung  Welsh by Cerys Matthews.  Turn your sound on and up and enjoy!

https://parallel.cymru/sosban-fach/?lang=en

 

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Alphabet

Chaos

Alphabet

So everything is now as yellow as the yellow alphabet.
Bellow below cello, above fellow, saying “Hello,” jello,
always yellow, nobody eats orange jello, mellow, sello
or sellotape, tellow, as in “Tell old salt …” pronounced
“tellow salt” … so many verbal adventures, scales falling
from young eyes, and old ones as wello,
and the melody of music in tone,
on tongue, wonder in the eyes of everyone,
golden yellow, hair high-lighted in the early morning sun.

Commentary:

An endless jumble of words, all joined together rhythmically and linking one thought to another in a succession of jumps that wander from here to there and back again. Team tag: each one of us chosen for a moment, teased, played with, abandoned, picked up again, delight in each adventure.
My party tricks are e-cards, typing on the computer, her name, my name, the alphabet, her mother’ name, another name, and then another. Coloring is my trick too, and finding empty pages that can be followed with color and scrawl and everything that turns the blank page from a wilderness to a new world covered in endless manufactures of meaningful, meaningless scratches.
Joy in small things.  Albert Camus’s theory of the absurd present in almost every moment of the day. Moments that stretch into eternities, eternities seen in a grain of sand. Dw i mwynhau … what do I enjoy? These timeless moments, these glimpses back into my family’s past, Dych chi mind am dro? … these walks into my DNA’s future. Nach ydw: no, I will not be here. But tiny segments of my existence, words and phrases of my Welsh grandfather’s DNA and language, they will be here. Recycled. Again and again. Somehow. Somewhere. Forever. What more could I ask?

Yellow

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Yellow

Sunshine and daffodils: my grand-daughter
paddles in the kitchen sink. Her mother
washes feet and dishes. “Sit,” Finley says,
and “stand,” following the words with actions.

“Yellow,” she says, “yellow,” as daffodils
fill the computer screen to shine in that
far-off kitchen five hundred miles away
by road, but immediate by I-Pad.

“Yellow,” Finley repeats, “yellow.” Soon
in that distant province where spring arrives
so much earlier than here, she will see
daffodils dancing their warm weather dance,

tossing their heads to gold and yellow trumpets,
fresh, alive, and young in the soft spring breeze.

Commentary: Not a large vocabulary, back then … yellow … yellow hair, yellow jello, yellow dog, yellow cat, yellow daffodils, well, we got that one right anyway. So, she is here now, yet again, with an enlarged vocabulary and two feet taller. She comes shopping with me, swings on the shopping cart, runs everywhere, will not sit still, slips and slides like stones in a slate quarry. She takes my cane, I call it a walking stick, and thwacks it in the air, a danger to sundry and all. Knows what she wants: not this, not that, no, yes, THIS … and points with a sticky finger at whatever it is that has caught her fancy.

She runs away from me, and I cannot catch her. I stand there quietly, waiting for her to return. And she does, with a squeal and a shriek and cries of joy after even a brief absence. We talk magic. I say I am invisible, and she cannot see me. She says she is invisible, but I poke her in the ribs with my index finger and she squeals again. Magic, she says, you can do real magic. I nod. Me too, she says. And she is the real magician for she is four years old and has me bewitched.

Finley at Two

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Finley at Two

Blood of my blood, my daughter’s daughter,
I live too far away to watch each day the laughter
on your lips, the sparkle of your eyes.

I see them when we Skype. Such a miracle
this magic machine that reduces distance
and time and brings you here to me.

I see you trying to stand, to understand,
to hold my image in your mind, to figure
out these moving shadows on the screen.

Words, born from poetry in my heart
and music on my lips, sometimes fall short,
and fail. Perhaps I should carve you a Welsh

love spoon. But time is not on my side. So brief,
this life: I wonder if we will ever meet again.

Commentary: Seeing Finley again, now aged four, has made me question all my earlier poems about her. I am overwhelmed by her energy, her interests, her concentration. I am bowled over by her flexibility, her strength, her joy in simple things. The above is not a new poem: it is a rewrite of an older poem, one that no longer served its purpose. I reshaped it as a sonnet, not traditional, but a sonnet none the less. I doubt that I will have much time on my own over the next two weeks in which to write. I guess I will pick away at this blog, adding a little something every so often, when the energy runs down and tranquility descends. Bear with me: I’ll be back.