‘Your cat has taken eleven of my birds’
our grey haired neighbour said,
‘but I’m not blaming you’.
I imagine her watching birds dancing in the sun,
cigarette burning in her mouth, hands parked on hips.
The cat is entangled in the shrubbery, autumn eyes
flickering with the wind. Then a wiggle before the pounce
onto a careless blue tit, a splash of wings,
then stillness under splayed claws. She bangs on the window,
smoke filling her hair, her face hardening like gouache.
The cat clamps his jaws around the hot chest,
feels it rippling with panic. The game has begun.
With tenderness, he slowly eases a paw off the bird,
delighting in catching it again, the flap and urgent flutter.
He picks up the little body, carries it home,
bustling through the cat flap, chittering,
prattling with delight, his chest rumbling like an old accordion,
trembling with a low bass note.
Sometimes we arrive too late, finding a covering of feathers
and bones on the carpet, red spots of blood like matt paint in the weave.
I know he’s taken eleven birds as I’ve seen them all
the blue tit, the siskin, the chaffinch,
deconstructed to their base components:
our cat, the anatomist, the white coated scientist.