A Poem for Theo: Townhouse Interior with Cat by Amy Clampitt

Theo, the Jungle Cat

In honor of National Poetry Month and our outdoor beast, Theo, who reminds us daily of the lure of nature and being true to one’s self:

Townhouse Interior with Cat

by Amy Clampitt

Green-gold, the garden leans into the room,
the room leans out into the garden’s
hanging intertwine of willow.  Voluptuous
on canvas, arum lilies’ folded cream
rises on its own green undertone.  The walls
are primrose; needlepoint-upholstered
walnut and, underfoot, a Bokhara heirloom
bring in the woodwind resonance of autumn.
Mirrored among jungle blooms’ curled crimson
and chartreuse, above the mantel, diva-throated
tuberoses, opening all the stops, deliver
Wagnerian arias of perfume.
______________________The kettle
warbles in the kitchen; we take our teacups
downstairs to where the willow harbors,
improbably, a ring of mushrooms.  Tulips
and rhododendrons have almost done blooming;
laced overhead, neighboring locust trees
discard their humid ivory.
_____________________But where’s
the favorite with the green-gold headlamps?
She’s perverse today; declines, called out
of hiding, to recall past tête-à-têtes
of sparring hand-to-paw; claws up a tree;
patrols a wall.  We see her disappear
into her own devices.  Cornered later
under the gateleg table, tail aloof,
she flirts, an eloquence of fur, but won’t
be wooed or flattered.  The look she gives
me, when she looks—the whole green-gold,
outdoor-indoor continuum condensed
to a reproachful pair of jewels—is wild
and scathingly severe.

Clampitt, Amy.  The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

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