English poetry

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A Theory Of Prosody

A Theory Of Prosody

When Nellie, my old pussy
Cat, was still in her prime,
She would sit behind me
As I wrote, and when the line
Got too long she’d reach
One sudden black foreleg down
And paw at the moving hand,
The offensive one. The first
Time she drew blood I learned
It was poetic to end
A line anywhere to keep her
Quiet. After all, many morn-
Ings she’d gotten to the chair
Long before I was even up.
Those nights I couldn’t sleep
She’d come and sit in my lap
To calm me. So I figured
I owed her the short cat line.
She’s dead now almost nine years,
And before that there was one
During which she faked attention
And I faked obedience.
Isn’t that what it’s about-
Pretending there’s an alert cat
Who leaves nothing to chance.



Poem A Theory Of Prosody - Philip Levine