The Cat in post is Tirzah, a British Blue rescue cat who likes hunting dishcloths & sponges, shredding poems and sitting in washbasins, and who has an astonishingly operatic vocal range.

The original Cat was Smokey, who lived to the great age of 19 and was with me through many changes of direction.

There is a great deal I could say about her, but I’ll confine it to this pastiche of Smart’s ‘My Cat Jeffrey’:

For Smokey

            after Christopher Smart

For her tail connects the casual with the causal

For a high window is reason to make herself tall

For she will watch a crack in the door for whole hours

(asking who goes there?)

For her body is an alertness

For an open drawer is the compulsion to know what’s behind it

For she watches for the shape of words in air

For she knows their resonance and their promptings

For she will rush at birds to warn them she is coming

For she has never yet caught a mouse

For she is gracious

For she goes head to tail in cloth of grey fur

For she will sit with four paws folded to imitate a seal

For she will yawn at stretch to imitate a shark

For she is herself down to the bent of her claws

For she has no recognition of a mirror

For her form is the perfect expression of her catlike mind

For where the ears lead the eyes will follow

For her body is a corpus

For she is plump

For her hours are first: airing cupboard, second: armchair, and third: bed

For in summer she will also patrol the garden wall

For anything that is worth doing is worth careful observance

For an open window is an open invitation

For her eyes are perfect rounds of enquiry

For she will fret the undersides of cupboard doors

For she will extend a paw through the banisters in friendship

For in winter she will tap twice on the duvet for admittance

(if it is cold)

For she will reconnoitre by nose

For her curiosity will spy out chimneys

For she huffs about the house like a small engine

For she will run to the door in greeting, if anyone is there

For her ears are tippets

For she will open and close her mouth silently, for speech

For her purr is the purr of the earth turning

For she respects the hours but not the greater divisions of time

For her tail is ringed with each of her nine lives

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