He Considers His Wife’s Three Cats, 1793
A different nation lives within our walls, cats.
Sent from God in triplicate, easy as envoys
Of a great power, my wife’s cats enjoy the sun
As it fills each evening the bristling chaise longue.

I eye them in their un-translated power and they,
In turn, suffer me, a provincial merchant.
One rises like a green ceramic vase become liquid,
One sneezes neatly as if all the spice of Zanzibar

Had fallen upon her russet cloak. The cinnamon
Of their being fills their mistress’s room
While I, mere man, could never coax such affection,
Such ecstatic welcome, from a Callanan woman.

Only some un-Christian force, primeval nation,
Could feed upon the certainty of human loves.
Cats upon cushions; envoys whose only purpose is
To stretch, to yawn in sequence, to be luxurious.