Animal Study

by Ellen Bryant Voigt

Ellen Bryant Voigt

The cat sleeps stretched out
like someone's fur piece or rolled up
warm as flannel. She can sleep outside
on a flat rock, full belly up, claws
pulled in, soft neck exposed.
She dreams of how she will slink
through tall grass without disturbingit
and discover there with her famous eyes
a rabbit for her pleasure or a mouse
whose rapid breathing gives it away.
Gently she will embrace it,
one arm around its shoulders,
the other moving gracefully to strike.
Or she thinks of the lovely birds, swooping
and gliding, and how she will leap up
higher and higher, over the clothesline,
her arms elastic and extending themselves forever.
And waking slowly is like coming home
to sit on a patterned rug and wash herself.
Exquisite, invulnerable--
like the spider spinning his shimmering filigree
or the clear mosaic of the snake's imperial head.

Collected Poems

Last updated March 12, 2023