Skip to content

   In the International Pavilion,

for carven cats there are three positions

mainly: the sleeping round, the sphinx

and the sitting upright Bast,

protector of women. These cats

are painted in African sunset

colours, from bird pink to black,

with russets, grapes, and tangerines.

They look edgy, like the live

exhibits. The Show is always

edgy, its moon often a high

cold full Easter moon. Some of the

animals will die and be tasted

and fear it. Some schoolchildren

who bred them will vomit with pride.

      Katharine and I avoid

the live exhibits these days, even

the pretty petting zoo. We buy a small pride

of soapstone for her cat collection, two

hippos for my soapstone hippos,

too. These hippos are different:

curled asleep like cats, not upright

on four legs with flaring noses.

When Katharine was a baby, I wrote

a poem that cats have small dry

noses and dogs large wet ones. Mysteriously,

it was requested for an erotic

international anthology and I agreed

diplomatically. Katharine still

finds that hilarious, but I suppose

the anthologists could have been northern

from some area of ice where noses

chill easily and need a pridelike welcome.

I try to photograph her with the new

digital camera but it has too

funhouse a dimension, distorts

the nose too far before the face, which

should suit the Show, but I abandon

it for the mobile phone, which shows

that moon of equinox behind her better, and

her small fine straight nose with its

slight nostril flare in proportion.

We buy a round white cloth cat:

mouthless, Japanese and strong,

the lack of mouth suggesting not

docility but a placid and wide

powerful telepathy. It has

a nose, which looks sensitive and neat.

Such cats were strewn around

the Japanese tidal wave wreckage, wet

and no doubt radioactive. Urbane men

with grim in their name and tone spoke

on Western TV saying that

the Japanese crisis would prove

the safety of nuclear power. Stray

toy cats without mouths did not

lower their pride to reply. The grim moon

of April is a pale pear blossom, not

pink like cherry, peach, or plum. Somewhere

here a cow lows, uncertain. We

hope it is a dairy cow, move on

in the milk-warm moon of caution.

In the International Pavilion

Jennifer Maiden

More from
Poem of the Week

George McWhirter

The Jaguar

translated from the Spanish written by
Homero Aridjis
Ishion Hutchinson