W.B. Keckler


What’s Your Birthday?

Oh, little cat that I love
                                   where did you come from?

From a mountain behind Little Buffalo State Park
near Dromgold’s Corner
a colony of cats    cared for by an old woman
kept half-wild
We had to hurry b/c you were one of two remaining
after your brothers and sisters had followed your Mother
deep in the woods      where owls fed
on the blood of your blood
and your brothers and sisters
ended up pellets of bones

in owl’s nests
in owlets

in the gullets
                     of foxes

You were neurotic like me
and stayed back
                          on the porch of the house
liking humans
                     They told me you were
                          raised by
                                          a surrogate father

a white cat         blind

             I met him

so old it was painful to look at him
though he had poise
and Buddha calmness

his feet covered in the thick mud
of the creek   “where he likes to walk,

                                     to pretend he’s hunting still”

   He sat
                and you rubbed round him
                                             circling love
                              as we do
                                             all our lives,
                                    all our lives

     Your chosen father,

                            do you remember him?

      died a week later
                                     You don’t know

                                      The wild woman told us

                                       And ran her hand through her wild
                                        white hair
                                                           smelling interestingly,

                                                                         of course,
                                                                                         of cats…



W.B. Keckler is an American poet and translator. His books include Sanskrit of the Body (Penguin, 2003), which won the (U.S.) National Poetry Series in 2002, and translations of Andre Malraux’s early works, The Kingdom of Farfelu and Paper Moons (Fugue State Press, NYC). His work has also appeared in the recent anthologies Isn’t it Romantic (Verse Press, NYC) and In The Criminal’s Cabinet (Nth Position, U.K.)