I grew up with a cat whose name was Big Kitty,
the ruler with terror of our provincial city.
Part Tugboat Annie, part Calamity Jane,
her main purpose in life was the infliction of pain.
She lived with us and her spinster daughter,
a kitten no one took, much less would’ve bought her.
The latter cat’s coat was a sort of tortoise shell pattern
that marked her a mongrel, the spawn of a slattern.
The other kits in the litter quite flew off the shelf,
but not Baby Cat, who was left by herself.
The sort of thing that would set Big Kitty off
was a stray remark, a sneer, a scoff
at Baby Cat’s dubious legitimacy,
her mongrel, miscegenate, odd-looking kittemacy.
Big Kitty was the sort of blowsy blonde you’d find in a feline cocktail lounge.
Toms would buy her drinks with parasols, and pizza-flavored goldfish.
She never had to scrounge,
she ate from a gold dish.
But the lady in her would disappear and she’d kick your sorry butt
if you happened to suggest that her daughter was a mutt.
She’d be all over you like a can of flea powder
you’d scream real loud, then you’d scream even louder.
We’d watch them come home with vindicated pride
after tanning some impertinent cat (or dog’s) hide.
The aging mother’d lick her daughter’s mottled fur
until her offspring would begin to purr.
And then she’d explain
in her best cat mommin’
“Don’t mind that trash,
they’re tacky—and common.”
Moral: Even the runt of the litter is some cat’s kitten.