The neighbour’s cat

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We had a visit from you, today,
The neighbour’s cat

A rustle in the foliage and then
With customary aplomb you reached a forepaw
Down the wooden fence and descended
To join us here on Earth
In the lateness of a lovely summer afternoon

You sauntered across the yard with tail aloft
Grinning a miaow, greeting us with what we
(No doubt anthropomorphisingly)
Interpreted as pleasure, at seeing us again

Grilled fish was afoot but hard to say in truth
If that was your objective or this:
The sound of fingernails scraped
On concrete flagstones, before which
You did twist your head to the ground
Then execute a half-roll this way, half-roll that way
As if to squirm an itch
Against the gritty surface

We offered flaps of oily salmon skin from our plates
And ever so politely you inspected this treat
Nose first, furry feet tucked tidily together
You even assayed an exploratory lick or two
But then - some fleeting sound
Your ears they swivelled your haunches dipped
And we all saw the killing focus in your eyes
The immaculate tension in your limbs for one frozen moment
Until, distracted once again, you padded off

But anyway, you’re always welcome
The neighbour’s cat

We like the way relations are arranged
Such that it will be us feeling gratitude for your presence
For you stroll among us like a lord dispensing favour
While receiving tribute from his serfs.
We like the way you pause that we may stroke but not too much
The way you purr if we minister correctly
The way you pander to us yet never admit affection
Into the cold detachment of your gaze.

We like the way that while you dip into our world
You clearly still belong in yours – a world of sensual lingerings
And creeping menace
A world of hormone-scented landmarks, of sharpened weaponry,
Of slo-mo shrieks and sudden
Flesh-raking violence

We enjoy those refined interludes wherein you blithely wash
Before our very eyes some intimate aspect of your person
The way you courteously keep your claws and teeth in check
When provoked by tickling fingers 
On the softness of your tummy
Until, that is, raw instinct overwhelms you...

We enjoy your visits, the neighbour’s cat, and never know
When or on what grounds they will end

Because, typically
You drift away without so much as a by-your-leave. 
We notice you’ve transferred attention
To something at the end of the garden
A little later the fence judders, there's a rustle in the foliage 
And you’re gone

And we look forward till the day you deign
To call on us again
The neighbour's cat