For I Will Consider My Cats… (haibun)

For I Will Consider My Cat George. plaster and ink on canvas. © Belinda Broughton
For I Will Consider My Cat George. plaster and ink on canvas. © Belinda Broughton

a flurry of colour
freed, the crimson rosella
doesn’t look back

Sometimes, when I was a kid, birds would hit the side of our home and the cat would rush out there to catch it while it was stunned. So, every time we heard that thud, it was a race between me and the cat to see who could get there first — me to save the bird or the cat to eat it. Three times I got there just after the cat and prized her jaws apart, the bird flying free unharmed. But the fourth time, the cat clamped her jaws down on the bird, killing it instantly. I was angry with the cat and took the bird away anyhow. The cat just scowled.

We lived in remote North Queensland. I don’t know which feral cat she was making her pregnant, but maybe one we were responsible for.

box under the bed
the labouring cat
begins to purr

the rasp
of a cat’s tongue
wobbling kitten

Once she brought a wood duck up from the house-dam, a good kilometre away. It was bigger than her. She dragged it in for her kittens not yet three days old. There lay the duck, its feathers gleaming in the shadows of her nest while the kittens peered through half-opened eyes. She also brought in a goanna for them, huge and leathery and very much alive, in fact, still perfect because she couldn’t break its skin. Eventually it got away, running up the nearest tree to the outermost branch, the cat after it, both dropping to the ground, and away through the bush. She didn’t come back with it, so I suppose it won.

She took to having broods of kittens away down the paddock in some hollow log, but I was a tenacious child and would stalk her, a few more metres each day. She would change direction when she noticed me. But eventually I would find them and bring them back to the house.

She may have hated me, that cat.

flicking her tail
the cat
in a pink doll’s dress

Eventually she brought dingo poison back and vomited it up, her latest batch of kittens succumbing also, two older male cats locked away until it was all over. And that was the end of our addition to the feral cat population.

(artwork after: Jubilate Agno, Fragment B, [For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry] by Christopher Smart)

Crimson Rosella

inspired by:

Belinda-Broughton2

at Ligo Haibun Challengewhich, this week is using two of my images. I was going to write something entirely different, but this is what came out. Maybe another day.

18 thoughts on “For I Will Consider My Cats… (haibun)

        1. Once she showed me a brown snake by hackling her neck and waiting for me to see it before running away. how on earth did she know the difference between poisonous and non poisonous snakes? amazing, nature.

  1. Wonderful look into a world I would otherwise never know. At the same time, there are echos of Tennyson’s phrase “Nature, red in tooth and claw.” While I have lived close to the bone many times in my life, this artistic work in my view portrays life INSIDE the bone. I am in awe!!

    Ron

  2. What an amazing haibun – I could visualize it all – the bush, the feral cat, the birds. You grabbed my attention from the first sentence and had me reading keenly right to the very end. Very well done indeed.

  3. A trance like trickle through memory, I love the futility of our efforts to rescue the creatures our cats bring back! As a child I would bash the poor mouse with a stone rather than see it suffer, too traumatic an act, these days I’m just annoyed at the endless entrails and severed heads….
    I also wrote a version of this poem entitled – For I will consider my son Thomas…
    Regards
    Nicole

    1. lovely subject matter, is it on the web?
      these days I don’t have cats. I miss them rather, such sensual creatures, but since our last cat died, we have ground living birds and lizards. I have bashed the odd mouse in my time too.

  4. Wonderful haibun. A real contact with nature – and real nature, alive, and the true character in the haibun, with the animals interaction weaving the haibun together. Wonderful rhythm with interspersed haiku. Tension was there throughout, making this a very lively read. This to me is where the genre of haibun excels. Thank you so much – really enjoyed this piece.

  5. Great haibun and story! What is it about our relationships with cats that always seems so much more complex than with other pets? Maybe it’s that they’re so much more close to wild and independent…

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