Best New Zealand Poems 2002
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Cat Tales

They have two cats (I know what you’re
thinking, but they don’t cause the eczema
they didn’t come up on the scratch test
although you’d think they would, being

cats). Two parents, two kids, two cats
you can’t get much more nuclear than
that. The cats are dysfunctional. They
had a bad start to life and were rescued

when kittens by a woman who believes
in the goodness of cats, rehabilitates
cats. She never gives up on them.
They call her Ma. But realistically

if you want an easy life with a cat
choose one from a good home. Sticky
is a nervy cat, won’t settle, dribbles.
Dusty is sneaky and into the butter

in a trice. No matter how the mother tries
she just can’t love them. But the children
do. The children carry them tenderly
in from the rain. They’re breaking the

cycle. Dusty and Sticky had kittens –
eight but one died (like her parents).
They gave them away to
good homes. She has conversations

in the supermarket with the new owners.
One kitten had a hole in the heart.
They could pay $300 for an operation or
watch it die. They’re watching it die.

Another was a tom who had kittens
after his first night on the town. Aue!

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