Well, no, not a bobcat, a tricolour cat.
Perhaps a tortoiseshell, or perhaps a calico; it probably depends on which side of the Atlantic you live. And if you live in Spain, you might call it a gato mariposa – a butterfly.
I have dug into my files and found a very purple poem about a tortoiseshell; I’d like to call it juvenilia, but have to admit I was very much an adult in the late Nineties when it was originally drafted.
If I remember rightly, the piece was written for an anthology on demons and monsters; certainly poems considered for inclusion were required to have some kind of mythical or magical connection.
Enough time has passed for me to achieve a certain emotional distance, so when I found it I was very tempted to start tinkering; in fact, I have done little except correct the spelling of “weird”, a word that always trips me up.
Bast, kindly race-mother, has a skin of snow and sand
daubed with dark night. She is Sekhet the Terrible,
vengeful destroyer; she is goddess of the hunt
and liberty: her velvet paws hide sharp and silent death.
The guardian of my hearth and home
lies winking in the sunlight: mother
to a brood of Penates: small household gods,
who romp and tumble round her sphinx-like form,
ignorant, as yet, of fate.
Weird sister, dreamer of dreams, weaver
at the loom of fortune, knit up the visions
of a thousand lives; wind the shuttle
with the threads of chance
and weave me a dream.
See, I bring you a saucer of milk,
round and white like the moon
in the bowl of the sky; I bring you
the soft pink flesh of the wild salmon
who swims through salt and sweet,
fighting the current to seek his destiny.
Accept this offering:
lap the milk; tear the flesh;
feed your young.
We all know that “the naming of cats is a difficult matter”, but I seem to have failed even to identify her racial roots, her cultural affiliation or her religious persuasion. I have brought in such a hotch-potch of unconnected deities and traditions that I am surprised it was accepted for publication.
Incidentally, if you’re wondering why the post is titled “bobcat”, it’s because the cat in the picture belongs to Bob.
This post is dedicated to the Beast of Bodmin and Flaviu, the Dartmoor “Lynx on the loose”.