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.