“Poes” (pronounced poos) is the Dutch word for pussycat. Poes also happens to be the proper name of a silver European Burmese who lives on the City’s Upper Wild Side. Poes spent the holidays at the neighbors’ apartment while her master and mistress traveled to Europe to visit family. When no one was around, Poes jumped up to the loft and walked upon the Bose stereo. Though Poes wittingly takes exquisite steps, it so happens that her delicate paw was able to push the FM button on the stereo. She spends this evening listening to WQXR, the Classical music station of the New York Times. During The Blue Danube, Poes licks herself with such delicacy that she turns her silver coat to midnight blue, her more elegant nightdress.
During a violin concerto, she stretches, extending her limbs all the way back to the memory of the first of her nine lives. In the distant past, Poes had not been merely an abandoned stray left in a box in Brooklyn; no, she had been born into the royal family. She was the most favored pet to the Virgin Queen. That was the lap of luxury!
But now she's Feline Urbane. When a car passes by on the street below, lights crawl across the ceiling. Poes is convinced those lights must be rivals; perhaps they are those legendary Birds of the Blaze? She waves her paws in the air. She pounces. No! Strange motion can't tease this cat who had lived royalty in her former life! Obedient, the lights disappear.
Poes remains still until a pigeon flies out from the eaves and the sound of wings flapping excites her. Poes sniffs the air and can smell the world’s oldest grace—solar dust and winter fur.
When she meows, she is pronouncing to her ghost audience, “I am the goddess of Mischief!” When she purrs, she is giving her advice to The Unmoving and The Shadows: “Sneak about and be patient!”
During nocturns by Chopin, she jumps from sofa to chair to windowsill. The sill always takes her back to her Cabaret days, when she shared the stage with that chorus line of Siamese. Ah, the glamour! They constantly had old showtunes on their breath; they prowled in the most fragrant alleyways, and hunted only those rats who smelled of the underground movement. That was all before the musical Cats had run its course and the group encountered that monstrous light, then the tragic accident.
Now, Poes is an uptown house pet. She naps and breathes in concertos by Mendelessohn and suites by Prokofiev. Each night, before the neighbors return home from their office jobs, the cat composes entire symphonies of her own, performs them for The Unmoving and The Shadows. She calls her creations “Opus in My Own Skin #1,” “Opus in My Own Skin #2,” etc. Though she often tries to reveal her true talents to them, the neighbors never thoroughly appreciate the genius of Poes. They can’t see beyond this one life. They can’t comprehend the cat in her proper historical dimensions, all those cycles of cats’ lives, her simultaneous existence in both polyphony and solo. These humans see one perky cat who likes to lick her fur clean, but there is so much more than that going on all at once. Can they see that? That is the big question occupying Poes’s mind. Poes rubs the neighbors’ shins and purrs, does an old nightlife trick she learned from the Siamese in the hopes that it just might help to stretch their awareness just a little further into the darker cirlces of the Great Unknown Breadth.
See photographs of Poes in the blogosphere.