Cats don’t Purr

 

pettingcat

I cannot make the sound, can you?
I know no one else
able to, from the throat emit this
low frequency, rebounded and repeated
gaining decibel but maintaining
feral, wild rolls like Spanish R’s—false
imitations of pure happiness with eyes
closed and mouth—I can’t roll a tongue
tight-lipped.

Can you be perfect
in joy; content just lying down
on a pair of jeans, a pair of sweats
blindly offering love in return
for a pat on the head?

When the “barrier”
of language exists, we recede
and keep our untrusting walls
distancing that hand, my vulnerability;
not like them. Sounding bells, beacons
of shining glee—

How do you
describe it? Pure pleasure, not
for anyone, not for everyone;
not continuous like a dog
tail-wagging here, there; no. Only
for one moment, guard down, claws in,
calm—that cannot be glazed over
but onomatopoeia; not a bang, or buzz,
or boom; No, not a purr.
Cats don’t purr.

Poem and Illustration: Shelly Leung

I named him Jerry

I don’t know what possessed me;
he wasn’t the gray childhood cartoon
I sympathized with but a golden-black
idol glowing by the streetlamp moon.
Maybe it was his marble-green eyes
he looked at me, through me
from the abyss.

Un-curious,
his stereotype seemed inappropriate,
only ever regarded me once
at a bus stop. He already sat
centered atop a metal black bench, eyes
un-wavered from the spot I vacated.
As I approached; no

arched back or hisses; simply turned
midnight marbles as if to ask, “Are you
waiting, too?” Without answer, he
lifted one paw, pat my arm and leapt
forward, a jingle of bells as he landed
at my feet, once more flashed eerily
green light on my being before the turn

no more lights, as if the street itself turned
tar black. Melted into the cavernous night,
a light mew–good bye. A light shown,
finally the bus; boarded, but out the window
I saw no green eyes. On faith, I waved
into the night. “Good night, Jerry”
hoping he would catch my farewell.

-Shelly Leung

cat poem I named him Jerry