Do stories start in any sense that’s real?
I used to think so, till I met the cat.
I’d been hunting in the forest and the chill
had leached feeling from my fingers, and my hat
no longer blocked the rain. A chattering rat
had been the only mammal that I’d seen
and even though God knows that it had been
too long since I had eaten there’s a line
I would not cross, then, as to what’s cuisine.
A cat struck down the rat and said, ‘That’s mine.’
‘You spoke,’ I said astonished, and the cat
asked, ‘Was it yours? I’m sorry, here take half.’
And so began a conversation that
while less exalted than a rubaiyat
I had read once that a camel had composed
surpassed the monologue the rat had nosed
around for cheese. It ended in a wheeze
we savoured and then, sated, we both dozed.