"Cat Wisdom" is a vignette from my book: DANCING WITH MY FATHER. It will be the basis for my performance tonight at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. Movement and words by the artist's daughter to open the current exhibit which is based upon cats... The artist's daughter is tired and nervous. The presence of a highly energetic puppy in training to be a dog makes the possibility of performing remote and unreal. By doing this blip while Lumen is napping, I am seeking to make cat wisdom real, and even comforting. Perhaps copying the piece here will set the scene, so to speak. It is longish, so bear with me. Or not...
I would like to hear my father's laughter. Could it happen if I were to walk on all fours, assume paws and a perfectly curving tail? If my look is mostly benign and often amusing? If I keep my face clean, my whiskers sensitive and shining? I shall place my cat feet with infinite care on the path that he travels. I shall sense my father's delight in my flawless form. My ears will prickle and twitch at the scratch of his pen upon paper. My timing will be beyond reproach as I suddenly pounce upon beetle or lizard, suddenly bat at a butterfly's passing.
Was that a chuckle...low and rich...ruffling my fur with pleasure? This thought pulls me close to his human warmth. His trouser leg yields to my firm appeal. The artist's fingers set down his pen, descend to my arching back for a long, slow stroke, and another. Dellicious! I move away slowly, my small heart pulsing against my ribs. Being a cat, I know the importance of dignity, and respectful sharing of space. I know to save something for later, perhaps when the evening fire leaps on the hearth.
At dusk, the man almost relaxes, settling in his chair to read. His lamp lights his book and halos his graying hair. He takes a few swallows of wine and places his glass on the floor. I am good at waiting. My patient cat mind is watchful, aware of each delicate moment drifting by. When the scene is set, I spring with certainty onto my father's knee, tamp the pages of his book, turn my green-gold eyes to catch a smidgeon of lamplight, and finally emit a perfectly pitched me-yooow.
My father's laugh erupts into the night-quiet room. I almost flee. But this is what I came for: my daddy's laughter. I hold my fear, observe its subsidence, and look at the mouth of the man, now gently smiling. His eyes are soft with gratitude as he pulls me close. A brief fierceness is felt; I must practice cat patience again, curb reaction. And soon, his surrender allows me to lower my weight, to drape my body across the expanse of his lap. He leans his head back with a sigh, lets his large rough hands come to rest upon me, and I purr.