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Robert Martens

the mythology of aphrodite: a day in the life of my housecat

and when the
day is done, my beast
and age has taken us
to sleep
and darkness in
the veins runs deep
and dreams of love
shall never cease

1. in which she awakens
the ear’s twitch. the belly’s
bulge. the flow and through,
paws wrapped in a perfect
sphere, breath warm as
milk, in the navel of
slumber, of before, once
upon a silken sleep. the
birds haven’t yet begun their
screech. the stars haven’t
severed from morning. she’s
envied. in the bed
above, i, master of day,
bureaucrat of chance,
floundering through dreams
stale as frozen bread.
an ear’s twitch. a
sniffle, a stir, a stretch.
darkness clumped like yarn.
twilight matted in her nape.

2. in which she rises
moonlight trickles down walls,
soaks into carpet, pools
ice green in her eyes, murmurs
tender lies, evaporates.

canned light, processed
talk, i, master, rise to a
post-digital day, click
instant hour to twenty-four.

she hears the crack of a
whip, the roar of the crowd,
she leaps through
dawn’s flaming hoop.

3. in which she hunts
sterile savannah, aborted
prey, carpet and
chemical far as she
can see, but she the
hunter, smells the non-
wind, haunches to
riverbank blank, and
green glint of
eye, smoke savage
pounce, the
hunt haunts ancestral
bones, leap and rip –
while i, daymaster, bend
over red heat,
pour my tourist
cup – click
of claw, dash
to doom, sofa
slit and cushion
rip, she’d tear the
rest if this jungle
jangled, but
walls to tame and
laze to floor, and
slumber stretch down
muscle and
purr, and wild
to mild

4. in which she is fed
the hunger of hard times.
the feedbowl empty.
the penance of poverty.
she petitions, master of daydoom, for the kibble bowl of life.
she petitions, benevolent one, who speaks the tongue of full belly.
thrice she petitions, hearken to mewl and moan, to your fourlegged beloved.
kindness is overflowing.
the turn of a brass knob, the opened door, the concealed crackle of feedbag.
never again shall you beg.
the solar spin, the opened day, the concealed passion and plenty.
sit with me, eat and drink.
we are fed.

5. in which she grooms
and oh the magic that is she,
the reach of tongue, the curl of pink,
and belly scrub and mat unkinked,
and anus flesh and smooth and clean.

for beauty smiles with every lick,
and beauty would be lonely if
the paw undusted, fur unroughed:
the tongue can make the stillness sing,

and sing it shall when hour is done,
may tongue’s moist mercies, every one.

6. in which she purrs in master’s absence
purr’s a semitone between
carpet and sofa. purr’s
a snuggle between foundation
and shingle. purr’s a
pleasure, pendulous,
between green and blue. and
yes, i, master, am gone,
to the flash of
wireless day, but
purr rumbles between
rock and paw, claws back
shreds of night. black
swirl in mid-
morning radiance. purr’s
one eye here,
one ear there.

7. in which she watches from a window
when world was young, and morning cool,
and lily breathed, and green was tall,
she watched as patient as the dew,
the cat behind the wall.

she watched the hop and sparrow wing,
she watched the crow’s cantankerous call,
she heard the pine invite her in,
the cat behind the wall.

and dusk shall wander, shadows pray,
and robin feel a starry fall,
and darkness pulse within her veins,
the cat behind the wall.

8. in which she welcomes the master’s return
yes gone’s the
master, as daylight
dim, as purr
and patient she
alone, as she
the curl of watchful
drowse – and then
the shock, the noise, the
door, oh who, she’ll
haunch and scuttle, hide
and peer, greeny
ghost in slit
of eye, who, who’s
there, who the
hunter, the shuffle
foot, the clank of
key, who’s there, oh could
it be a greater
beast, a slaver word,
a carnivore of digital
doom, a stalker through
the asphalt roar, a
predator from
power storm???

he’s back.
merely myself, master of daylight.
my pale hand to her arched back.
in the hour’s stealthy return,
she welcomes you.

9. in which she sleeps on master’s lap
they nest in warmth, his concave
lap, her spherical belly (like male

madonna, furry child), at daylight’s
weary fall, her plump pleasure,

her floppy indolence, as she
purrs, as she snores, and his eyes

droop to the swing of her tail,
to the rumble of her throat, and

his bones shall rest, master no more,
in the swaying crouch of primal dark.

10. in which she prowls for prey
once upon a nightfall, a fly, wanderer, exhausted by the day’s labours, scavenges for crumbs. a spider, her eight-legged body so despised, scrambles for the wonder of her web. a mosquito scouts a human arm, a single drop is all she desires, she must feed her
they are refugees in the master’s realm, in his wilderness of soap and water.
they live on the edge of day.
they are prey in a feline land, they exist in fear of her silent paw, her lightning pounce.
the master of day washes his face with soap and water, stretches, yawns, crawls into his bed.
and now it’s hers, she’s the queen of shadow.
she doesn’t believe in happy endings.
the fly, the spider, the mosquito, won’t survive the night.

11. in which she returns to sleep
he’s the master of day
undone. he pulls the quilt
over his head, severs
himself from light.
she’s home again. darkness
swirls about her like
goosedown, and has she
ever left? sleeping,
stalking, longing, in
the warm rumble of
ever night. if we
were lucky, we could
dream it. or
remember. one
eye here, one ear
there. but i, master,
in exile, and frail the
squirm of my sleep.
she’s in her corner. she’s
watching. the flow
and through, the belly’s
bulge, the ear’s twitch.

until morning, love.

i was engaged in writing a sonnet
when my cat threw up upon it
thus proving that all that is she
is greater than Poetry

Copyright © 2016 by Robert Martens – Used with permission

Robert Martens

poet Poetic JusticeRobert Martens grew up in a tightly ethnic Mennonite community. He encountered culture shock when he left the village and attended Simon Fraser University during its tumultuous years of student revolt. Since then he has lived in Abbotsford, where he has co-edited and co-written several books. He also sits on the board of the Mennonite Historical Society of BC and edits/writes for its periodical, Roots and Branches. As an escape from the madness of the global village, Robert writes poetry whenever he can.

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