"Oda Al Gato" (Granada; Albaicin Quarter)

Oil Pencil and Watercolor




This silly cat followed me for at least half an hour through an alleyway that's on the other side of the Darro, between the Albaican and the Hill of the Alhambra (which is to say, not a tourist-haunt). I assumed it wasn't following Herve (who actually likes cats and, therefore, would be of no particular interest to them). It would follow along for a few yards before jumping back into a slum-house window....and, then, it would re-emerge 10 or 15 feet ahead of us, coming out of another window and acting completely indifferent.  After about twenty minutes of this, I realized that I was basically being hunted...

"Oda Al Gato" (excerpted from Pablo Neruda....and ham-fistedly, if "accurately", translated by someone whose name I didn't bother to write down)


The animals were imperfect,
unfortunate in their heads.
Little by little they
put themselves together,
making themselves a landscape,
acquiring spots, grace, flight.
The cat,
only the cat
appeared complete and proud:
he was born completely finished,
walking alone and knowing what he wanted.
Man wants to be fish or fowl,
the snake would like to have wings
the dog is a disoriented lion,
the engineer would like to be a poet,
the fly studies to be a swift,
the poet tries to imitate the fly,
but the cat
only wants to be a cat
and any cat is a cat
from his whiskers to his tail,
from his hopeful vision of a rat
to the real thing,
from the night to his golden eyes.

Oh independent wild beast
of the house
vestige of the night,
lazy, gymnastic
and alien,
very deep cat,
secret policeman
of bedrooms,
of a
disappeared velvet,
surely there is no
in your manner,
perhaps you are not a mystery,
everyone knows of you
and you belong
to the least mysterious inhabitant,
perhaps everyone believes it,
everyone believes himself the owner,
of a cat,
or friend
of his cat.

Not me......."