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A Theory Of Prosody

 When Nellie, my old pussy
cat, was still in her prime,
she would sit behind me
as I wrote, and when the line
got too long she'd reach
one sudden black foreleg down
and paw at the moving hand,
the offensive one.
The first time she drew blood I learned it was poetic to end a line anywhere to keep her quiet.
After all, many morn- ings she'd gotten to the chair long before I was even up.
Those nights I couldn't sleep she'd come and sit in my lap to calm me.
So I figured I owed her the short cat line.
She's dead now almost nine years, and before that there was one during which she faked attention and I faked obedience.
Isn't that what it's about— pretending there's an alert cat who leaves nothing to chance.

by Philip Levine
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