Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

The Best Sort of Mimicry

Skylar was given the assignment, on short notice, to write a "list" poem for her Literature class. Because it's due tomorrow and she has already been working on her other homework for hours, I read her the opening lines of Christopher Smart's eighteenth-century tribute to his cat Jeoffry from Jubilate Agno, which Annalee Newitz and I used to enjoy reading aloud.

Skylar was inspired to attempt her own version, dedicated to her feline. I left her for a few minutes to use the bathroom -- we're hanging out at the Barnes & Noble Café in Foothills Mall -- and returned to find that she had already completed the assignment. I was glad, since I had feared that she would labor over the task as someone of her creative bent is inclined to do and was worried that she would run out of energy before her homework was completed. But when I saw what she'd come up with, my happiness magnified a hundred fold:
For I will consider my cat Punka
For her eyes burn brighter than all the tigers in the forests of the night.
For her robe of charcoal sweeps to her dainty toes.
For her tail is a plume.
For her eyebrows were singed away by the flame of Satan.
For she views food as a primitive curiosity beneath her contempt.
For she does not need solid fuel to feed her wild soul.
For she is smarter than my father.
For she counts the rows of helpless, neon mice and minces them with her claws.
For she is the predator.
For she regards her siblings as lower forms of life that God created for her prey.
For she leaps upon them from the night of the ceiling, sinking her teeth into their fur with a hiss.
For satisfying her bloodthirsty jaws, she squashes the black beetles from the cracks in the walls and eats the remains.
For she sleeps in the sink to block her servants from tentatively attempting to brush their teeth.
For she is irresistible when her motor rumbles.
For she is the love of the life of the universe and all its inhabitants.
For she is the bear.
This is a grand imitation of Smart's style. But the scary thing is that I read Skylar only a small portion of Smart's original and not the best parts -- and the ones that her lines evoke most strongly -- which come later on.
Tags: daughter, nostalgia, poetry
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