Friday, August 1, 2014

Fred Chappell: How shall our cats find us in that world beyond?

Ever wonder if your dear, departed cat will recognize you in the hereafter? Obviously, that's been a whimsical concern of our former poet laureate Fred Chappell of Greensboro. His latest collection, "Familiars" (Louisiana State University, $17.95 paper), offers a variety of poetic musings on cats, how they'll slip into your dreams, how powerful a presence is their absence, how they will overturn the ink -- and our hearts.

The Animals of Heaven

How shall they find us in that world beyond,
Where all is alien to the one we've known?
Will we retain the forms to which they bond
In present time, or different shapes put on?

Imagine us in that Hereafter Place
Where we have changed into another race
Of beings, no longer clumsy and afraid,
Neglectful, purblind, and self-satisfied,
So many times harmful by accident,
Or, at our worst, cruel by intent.

There they await us, hoping to recognize
The friends they honored for our nicer halves.
We never saw, not seeing through their eyes,
They loved us better than we loved ourselves.