Heather Banks, Member at Large, Rockingham, VA
I never owned a real black cat,
though felines of three other shades owned me
for more than 20 years sequentially.
Even longer has this ebony
cat crouched on a table that
might be rectangular or round,
and might be covered or just painted brown
but definitely is very flat
like the depth of all ambiguous spaces
painted on two-dimensional surfaces.
The pot of flowers, painted white, somehow
admits a trace of the room’s vertical orange plane.
The azure sky does not intrude entirely
on primed, bare canvas between cattails
and sunny flowers that sing of daffodils
or gladiolas that cannot open fully.
Light varies the striped décor’s lush tint,
and the sheer, patterned curtain rests, twisted
between breaths from the open window.
A painting—or perhaps mirror’s dark reflection—
almost slides off the wall into the path
of the screen door’s yellow frame.
Through decades now, I see,
the young artist’s energy
coiled in the waiting black cat’s smudge.
Each time I delve into this image,
it’s ready to pounce—perhaps attack
three reproductions of Asian cats
that lurk around the corner in my hall—
originals brushed by watercolor artists
on silk or paper centuries ago.
That trio perches, twitches, too—
and I smile, because _I_ see them all.