We do not have a cat. Consequently,
the neighbours’ cats disport themselves on our
property – one in particular,
a black and white, besmirching the rhubarb,
sitting hopefully under the bird feeder,
alert to the blackbirds hurriedly eating
the ivy berries far above, or,
like its prey, perched on the bird bath, licking
the water. A quick study – I appear,
it scarpers – though, as yet, has not mastered
the concept of windows so is startled
when I lumber gruffily into view.

We had a field mouse, found making a nest,
chewing an eclectic collection of
plastic carrier bags – Waitrose, the Co-op,
Carrefours, Duty Free at O.R. Tambo –
in the garden shed. Discovered, it looked,
unsurprisingly, like the mouse that
intimidated The Gruffalo
and we thought of our grand daughter – so carefully
let the little mother-to-be escape
into the bushes beneath the garden wall
and thence back into the wilderness.
We did cat sentry-go till the rustlings stopped.

Two refugees, neither welcome, both
easily killed – one escorted gently
to the border, the other hounded daily.
What moral, sentimental beasts we are!
The piebald cat, out of reach on the fence,
eyes me quizzically, head fetchingly
to one side, and I feel pity and guilt.

A week later, the cat continuing, meanwhile,
its incursions, I find, on the path,
exactly half a mouse – head, torso, front feet
upright as if it were springing from the stones –
its claws, in death, like fists.




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  1. #1 by John Chapman - October 18th, 2014 at 12:32

    Just one of the estimated 300M creatures killed by around 6M cats each year mainly for fun. A necessary cull perhaps or we may be overrun?

  2. #2 by Kate Harrison - October 20th, 2014 at 07:02

    Our mouse had grander architectural ambitions and made its home in a box file, with hobbitish circular entrance, furnished with shredded washing up sponge! The cat problem was solved, maybe temporarily, by having my sister’s dog, Dusty, to stay for 2 weeks. She spent much of her time standing in the pond, looking for frogs.

  3. #3 by David Selzer - October 20th, 2014 at 12:49

    Excellent! Here’s one about a frog – http://www.davidselzer.com/2013/08/a-lone-frog/

  4. #4 by John Huddart - November 2nd, 2014 at 23:47

    Whilst accepting entirely the pro-mouse position the poem adopts, and approving wholeheartedly the particular anti-cat sentiments which the David and Goliath struggle between the two engenders, I still miss my cat, and its efforts to keep the house safe from smaller pests!

  5. #5 by David Selzer - November 3rd, 2014 at 11:25

    I have to admit that I have grown fond of the cat and only growl at it once a week. I must also admit that, having lived previously in a mouse-invaded house, I would have been totally pro-cat from the outset.

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