after Christopher Smart’s “My Cat Jeoffry”


For I will consider my cat (the Artful) Dodger.

For he was named so as a stray kitten coming ‘round the back porch.

For he enters and exits of his own volition through the cat door.

For everything he does is of his own volition.

For I cannot make him act against his own volition. For he will not cuddle when there is prowling to be done; he will not sit in my lap when through the office window, he can see a ruckus in the street.

For he purrs, rubs, and kneads of his own volition. For he loves of his own volition.

(For by stroking him I have found out electricity.)

For he begs for scraps while I am cooking by clawing my calf and throwing all of his weight into the pleading attack.

For he knows I will surrender to deep scratches.

For he grows oh so heavy in winter and cuts that much deeper.

For he struts across the keyboard and types his own sayings.

(For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.)

For at night he disappears; his sandy orange coat indistinguishable from the tall grass or the wood floorboards. For sometimes I trip over him.

(For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.)

For he studies the mourning doves. For he knows peace.

For all summer he eats doves using the bathmat as a placemat.

For all winter he eats brown mice.

(For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance. For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.)

For this is the 3 a.m. mouse who wakes everyone in the house to give chase. For Dodger wants everyone be involved. For—I think—he is trying to teach us to hunt.

(For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed he is called by benevolence perpetually—poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bitten thy throat!

For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.)

For he grows frustrated when we finally catch the mouse hidden behind the dresser and toss it outside; for I prove that I have not yet learned to kill.

For he is of free will, and of this will forgives my blunders.


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