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Poetry By
  Eric Lehman

Published on: 11/15/2007
The Hall of Cats

In the Hall of Cats at a well-groomed, new
European museum, all black tile,
The cat on the pillar catches my eye:
Smooth white marble crouched, carved delicately,
Two jade flecks for eyes, a wry, cryptic grin,
Made in China to honor Genghis Khan,
Who pounced on that empire more a mad dog
Than this siamese beauty stretching toward me.

The slanted green facets gaze at paintings
Of her brethren that hang on gray, bare walls,
Front right paw out, to grasp some warm spirit?
Body lithe, taut, back legs coiled and ready,
As though to spring through the long years at me.
What Chinese master saw this shape in stone?
Perhaps it called him with a living tongue,
"Free me and you free mankind's cold soul."

"The Egyptians venerated felines,"
I hear the wizened tour guide slowly hiss.
Hieroglyphic remnants show evidence
That four long millenia before this
Polished limestone blossomed into sculpture,
An ancient race, who built the halfling Sphinx,
Treasured the same animal, as I do
Eight centuries on History's far side.

Touched by this shallow synchronicity,
I ask the siamese softly,"Could the art
In this dark hall connect the human race?"
Her silent smile is an enigma.
Time will not retract its mystery claws.
The guide shuffles on, above the door reads
'Hall of Wolves.' I laugh, knowing if love fails,
Fear unites us surely as hounds hunt cats.

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