Song for Sampson
by T. Alan Broughton
What did we do for Sampson our cat?
For years we opened cans for him,
we spread out feast after feast
of golden-fleshed salmon, fine bits
of chicken in thick broth, and he ate
both morning and night. Each day
after he scratched his litter box
we emptied whatever he dropped.
Our laps spread like grassy plains,
and he alone was the pride, sunshine
flowing around the slats of the house
that was his cage, spreading over him
like honey, and his fur grew warm.
At night we gave him whatever place
on our bed was without the kicking feet
of our dreams, creatures he could not see
or smell. Often he lay on the rise and fall
of our breasts, the tide of breathing
and slow slap of heart as we rowed
toward morning. We took from him
all propagation and its will, left him
uncertain why faint odors of a passing female
made him stretch and sniff as if he sensed
his own life embalmed in air, a pharaoh's soul.
And this is why he pissed on our shoes —
not out of anger but to help us carry him
with us wherever we walked in the wide
world he could not enter, spreading musk
of Sampson over the surface of earth,
until he became immortal as the darkness
we eased him into, leaving us blessed.
T. Alan Broughton