Martin Bennett: ‘After Christopher Smart, a Tribute’

After Christopher Smart, a Tribute

For I shall consider our cat Tobina.
For against the tv’s jabber she deploys an exemplary silence.
For in the night-watches her pupils dilate headlamps of reflective jet.
For come sunrise she makes the bed’s corner her prayer-mat.
For she creeps, she darts, she slinks and struts and preens.
For she arches, she rolls, she stretches, various unknown verbs between.
For in her leaping she leaves books, ornaments and nick-nacks intact.
For she alternates briskness with languor.
For her wriggles can seem oracular.
For she enjoys the sunlight as if it were a boon companion,
For sleep is a customised cavern where she retires or emerges at will.
For like a surveyor she marks out the apartment according to temperature and utility—window-
sill, pelmet, coign.
For she licks her paws to a proverbial cleanness, then, a penny for thoughts, pats her head.
For her whiskers twitch at mysteries which we can neither hear nor see.
For her right cheek sports a spot a diva might envy.
For the garden beneath doubles as her cinema, leading cats and dogs and birds
plus the odd human extra attracting her rapt attention.
For a vicarious fillip to us follicly challenged, the more hairs she sheds,
the more she grows.
For her powers of concentration are electric.
For of odours she’s a tireless explorer.
For freedom and variety of movement are her sine qua non.
For she’s as punctilious as a princess regards her toilet.
For by pinpoint precision she nooks out new territory: khaki cushion, dip in the duvet,
precipitous shelf or chest.
For, once vexed, she’s a deft deployer of distance.
For lest rattus rattus attempt a come-back, she’s a wary sentinel, acute vision twinned
with wood-filed claws.
For the flight from Egypt is encoded in her DNA.
For she offers up, on just occasion, her tummy to be tickled.
For her trust, once gained, is total.
For again she licks her fore-paws.
For if sounds be air-waves, her ears are in leaf: Wainscot’s squeak meets music of the spheres.
For—Jubilate!—among cats a Tobina can look at a Jeoffry
and Jeoffry purringly wag his tail.

Martin Bennett



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