Monday, July 21, 2008

Self-Cleaning Cats


Not that you asked, but I've never known how self-cleaning ovens work. I suspect I cling to my ignorance on this subject because I'm suspicious of the concept, "self-cleaning ovens." You want ovens that will cook food well and reliably, I think. Ideally, you might want self-cleaning ovens, but requiring an oven to self-clean as well as to cook reliably seems like asking too much, in the sense that whatever bizarre technology is required for "self-cleaning" might disrupt the technology that insures reliable cooking.

Cats, on the other hand, are self-cleaning in ways I understand, ways I've observed, with some fascination. Therefore, I wrote a poem on the subject.

Cats' Baths

A cat is not a user of tools,
must therefore clean its body
using only its body. At some
juncture, self-cleaning cats
persisted well in Evolution's
pageant, passed on codes
of instinct which direct regular,
thorough cleaning of fur, feet,
orifices. A cat concentrates

on cleaning longer than it
concentrates on anything else.
Cleaning calls to cats. They
are somber as they clean, not
quite grim but determined
and earnest, certainly sincere.
Distracted, cats may pause
briefly, the edge of the pink tongue
lodged between teeth, bright
and vivid like a fragment of
a rose's petal.

This cat-vocation, cleaning,
fascinates. After cats clean,
they often sleep deeply, as if
sleep were a solemn ritual
in preparation for which they
licked their fur in the direction
their fur lay, and rubbed their
ears with dampened paws,
and licked between each
separated claw-sheath.

Copyright 2008 Hans Ostrom
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