Song of the Wandering Cat

Stuart Cooke

 

1.

I’ve run from the valley’s crazy harvest

I’ve run for the ravine’s azure loft

I’m resting on this idle rim

the song breathing hard within me

I am resting

a song is breathing

 

the wind sneaks up

sneaks up on the shoulders of the silence

the wind sneaking up

asking, aaasking – only     the mmm

the merest tip, almost white, slightest asking, “Who?

who?” Then: “WHO?”

“WHO ARE YOU?”

before darting off, a woolly

blanket over sleeping bedrock

 

at rest I’m rolling hills coated in blackest syrup

I’m at the edge of body

I’m at the very edge of ether

I’ve never known who, but wants re-elongate me

to glare presence

I am oozing this sweet honey

 

I am a child of the thumping paw prints

of the rolling canto

the pure phrase

 

eternity’s at my back

the land is brittle

as old rat rachis

my tail is a serpent

it follows me breezily through altitudes

 

 

2.

or the shape is just a log

glinting with moss

and I’m lost in lamp, swiping at tinges

of spider and tic

 

in which case I’m a frail, spluttering orb

an organism shrinking amidst the honeyed-smoke

of fried almonds

 

but I am still singing this song

 

earth is certainty

my body is mercurial

relocation

I’m seeping back to jewel potential

a smile in the night’s pupil

either certainty or who

ever

might approach will fall

into the folds beside each word

shredded by synonym

lashed by saliva strings

my steely gristle-music fight!

 

but the song stops again

I am meat cured beside a mossy log

 

Now:

Miles from any place, translating pressurised thought

into a torrent’s punch, or

sting and spider needle, or

drill and tic guts.

 

I’m at weather’s mercy;

my tail is a blind serpent.

I’m dense frequency heavy,

clumsier than speech.

 

I am still seeking this song.

 

Now:

At rest I am rolling hills coated

in blackest syrup.

 

My paws know better. All sense ends in shred:

signal clumping into claws, into my forest of teeth.

 

At rest I am the rolling hills,

or I am relocating mercurially.

 

Any snap, any rustle is

strike.

 

 Now:

I am land-beat, figure limbed:

my face is a carving in a century of rock;

at flight I shed semantic cloaks.

I am far from here and always;

I am far from here and always, kill: song’s rupture;

potent and nervous, vibe’s shot,

porous as the heaviest gust.

This song I am, still.

 

Stuart Cooke‘s latest collection is Opera (Five Islands Press, 2016). He is the winner of the 2016 Gwen Harwood Prize and the 2016 New Shoots Prize. He lives on the Gold Coast, where he lectures at Griffith University.

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