I’ve always been fond of felines, whatever their size and, until I was actually in a position to keep a domestic cat as a pet, I had an extensive collection of tigers.
There were book marks, tea cards, themed birthday cards and calendars, soft toys of all sizes, an Esso tiger-in-your-tank key ring from the 70s, a Russian porcelain figurine, tiger’s eye quartz jewellery…
Some were given away, broken, lost or abandoned. Others must be in a box in a lock up in Spain with so many of my other possessions. A few survive: I’m sure there’s a supermarket trolley token with a cartoon tiger’s head in the bottom of one of my handbags and a Schleich white tiger called Frankie continues to accompany me whenever I travel away from home.
It wasn’t only tigers, though. There was a hand-carved wooden ocelot brought back from South America for me, a tiny needle felted lion bought in Paris, a hand-made ceramic tile depicting a leopard…
Even now I find it hard to meet a cat without stopping to talk, or to walk past a statue or street sign with a feline on it without at least pausing. Unsurprisingly, this splendid creature demanded to be added to my collection, even if only as a photograph:
I have many poems with cats in them but, given the location of the graffiti, I thought I’d post this piece, even if it mentions a dumpster rather than a community wheelie bin.
The bland-faced moon skates tangentially across
a pool of indigo. She climbs the cambered sky
to run the gauntlet of the stars. Slowly, she unbuttons
and removes kid gloves, dropping them
without a second thought behind a dumpster
where they will be found next morning
by an old man exercising an Irish wolfhound.
Later that same night, she stoops to look through
your bedroom window. With nicotine-stained fingers
she pushes aside the net curtains of the clouds and vainly
strains to see her reflection in your eyes. The wind
shushes the trees, listening for a whisper of your voice.
Later still, the wolfhound stirs in his kennel as the sun
lumbers into readiness below the horizon.