TIGER AND BLUE JEWEL
“I slept, and wandered through the maze
Of dreams that do more good than sleep,
And soon fell witness to the gaze
Of one who dwells within the deep
And humid jungles of our thought:
The brazen tiger, ever bright;
And then, an ember of blue light
His patient amber stare had caught.
“My eyes flew open to the day
Of sun and sea-breeze, in our clime
Of gentle north, and where I lay,
The jungle only lives in rhyme.
But fixed upon my drowsy face,
As if he sought that jewel so rare,
The slender cat who nestled there
Kept watch, in his expected place.
“No, Alistair, it was not you.
That little cat died long ago.
We loved each other through and through —
His worth to me I did not know
Until my loss had made a gash
Within my heart, and in that urn
Upon the mantle, there must burn
A love eternal, veiled with ash.”
He paced the floor on silent feet;
His eyes were green with jealousy:
“I’m sure that Time’s unending beat
Replaced him in your heart with me?”
“No, Time has simply done a sum.
With cats, the heart’s a one-way door;
But you and I have met before,
In mighty Rome’s Imperium.
“And where I stood, with tethered hands,
You were my Calvary and Cross
On bloodied Coliseum sands,
Lest there should be another loss
Of something Christians call the soul,
That star-marked vessel of blue flame,
A sapphire, by another name
Whose preservation keeps us whole.”
Then Alistair grew still, and purred:
“We’ve marked the book of love again
For God, who gave his mighty Word
That love can brave a tiger’s den.
My teeth and claws made good your vow
Till only vows and bones were left.
That vestal maid, of life bereft,
Has found her silver tiger now.”
I held him close. “Time’s starry wheel
Sheds kittens like a gentle rain —
Soft mercy’s kisses, meant to heal
Our losses, loneliness, and pain.
Cats hold a love complete and pure,
Assuring us of love divine.
When I’m your cat, as you were mine,
Be silver with a core of steel,
And let the endless chain endure.”