Listening to Handel with a cat


Sometimes – and I think the cat thinks this –
after ordinary, quotidian things

lying stretched on the red tile floor
in the summer heat or reading in a chair

where there is nothing distracting or deep
for Handel seems conservative, even to a cat

music makes its own way, as water does, and swells
with sufficient volume between confining banks

which stalwartly resist – to the exact pitch
of water flow – until, and here the cat

stirs and his whiskers twitch – grandness comes
as if every drop resolves to go, magisterially

and slow and everything is resolve, resolve
and not a drop is wasted, not a vapour

above the darkening river, in the mist
but everything accrues to grand and majestic.

from Red Shoes, Te Mata Estate poet laureate 03 (Godwit, 2003), © Elizabeth Smither 2003, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004

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