How to Read a Cat

By on Jan 8, 2013 in Poetry

Girl with a Black Cat by Henri Matisse

Marguerite Matisse (“Girl with a Black Cat”) by Henri Matisse

She holds the cat in her lap
like an open book she has
often stooped to read. She’d read
it now, if she had one more
set of hands.  Instead, she runs
her hands over the soft fur
as if her fingers could read
this new kind of Braille, decode
the Morse signals of its purr
that tumble through its lush coat.
In other words, anagrams
of contentment written in
the darkest kind of ink.
The fact that it is all black
and sleeps on her lap almost
everyday has taught her
to sit up in her straight back chair,
ignore the unevenness
of the painted walls behind her
and gaze into the distance. 


Deborah H. Doolittle has lived in lots of different places but now calls North Carolina home. She has two Master's degrees and teaches at Coastal Carolina Community College. She is the author of two award-winning chapbooks and a book-length collection of poetry, Floribunda. Some of her poems have appeared in Kakalak, The Kerf, Natural Bridge, Pinyon Poetry, Poem, Poetalk, and Shemom, one of which has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.