Saturday, August 14, 2010


who can see how eye can know
I awaken.  Two large cat eyes, inches from my own, watch me, unblinking.  
I think about some lines from a poem by John L'Heureux, "The Thing About Cats:"

A cat is not a conscience; I'm not
saying that.
What I'm saying is
               why are they looking?

The cat looks at me this way for as long as I drift in and out of sleep. As soon as I've wakened and am truly conscious, she closes her eyes and relaxes, presses purring into my arms, catnaps.  I watch her for several minutes, taking undue pleasure in the dark stain on her nose, in each vari-coloured hair, in the black spots on the soles of her feet.  This much is clear: one of us must be on watch.

There is much to watch for.  The world is thick with demons, not all of them dangers.  Nor is everything that may be seen visible.

...who can see how eye can know?

"who can see how eye can know" is the tail section of John Hollander's picture poem, "Kitty and Bug."  It is printed many places, but I first saw it in Vicki Hearne's Adam's Task: Calling Animals By Name (1987), 244.

The full text of John L'Heureux's "The Thing About Cats" may be found here (and many other places):

The picture, of course, is of our cat, Dante, who knows most things important to know, even with her eyes shut.

1 comment:

  1. There is much to watch for, yes, and best that we not watch alone, but that creatures watch beside, over and for us.

    Dante is in Karin's corner.