An ancient Egyptian figurine of a cat in the Louvre museum. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
This was a prompt poem written in response to One Simple Impression’s prompt this week on pets. Instead of a haiku, though, I ended up with a triple sonnet using the rhyme scheme I accidentally invented yesterday (yes, I am going to call it a Nicholsonian sonnet – it’s a takeoff of the Spenserian sonnet form). So here it is. Enjoy.
Long ago in Nippon, I, sitting, waved
a sword at a landlord of great wealth
and caused him to approach me; thus I saved
him from a lightning strike. The man himself
thanked me and christened me Maneki Neko.
In Nordic lands, I enjoyed a fine health
of being sacred to Freyja; for lo,
in service to the love goddess herself,
I pulled her chariot, it is said. I
have carried lovingly the spirit self
of each Siamese king upon death. My
purpose: to ensure that the king himself
would be present to see the coronation
of his son ere he traveled to Heaven.
I also walked with pharaohs, head erect,
a walking image of Bastet herself,
nose held high in the hot air of Kemet.
I wore ornaments of gold, not by pelf,
but as grateful gifts from my admirers.
I ate the finest cuisine that their wealth
could buy. Now, I imagine that inquirers
wonder what happened. I’ll tell you myself.
You see, I cannot be easily tamed,
though you perceived me as just like yourselves,
domestic. I aloof, unreachable, became
wicked, the symbol of witches and devils
because you could not teach me. So then you
christened upon me dark legends anew.
First, you called me the witch’s familiar
and burned my cat kindred en masse. Your health
you naively destroyed; a peculiar
effect which you all wrought upon yourselves
was the Black plague, for we cats killed the rats
that carried it. You knew not what dark health
you called upon your cities. Then, we cats
suffered again, accused of the ill health
of your babies and children. Supposedly
we stole the breath from their lips, and a wealth
of doubt, fear, and lies were enough to cruelly
condemn us as thieves of juvenile health.
You’ve left off all that madness; now a pet
I am, but my history I’ll never forget.
©2008 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.