Peering through a stall opening in the old barn,
the tom cat watched as human tears
fell on a sickly, dying cow.
He’d seen many a birth and death down on the farm.
With no heart for compassion himself,
he focused instead on a hunt for his favourite prey.
The timid mouse entertained his curious interest
for a few agonizing minutes of clawed vivisection
before her death.
Life here was a demanding education in survival skills,
a harsh, strenuous reality compared with his former
luxurious life-style in suburbia.
There, he was hugged and petted with countless
caresses by loving human hands.
There, he was Nature tamed, gently reassuring
and prettily packaged for proud ownership.
Constant human indulgence and flattery
made him lazy and vain, lounging in regal splendour
until he felt like engaging in feline courtship rivalries
or teasing leashed dogs or pouncing on careless squirrels.
He passed the long and dreary winters
play-hunting catnip toys or hiding yarn balls.
He was so bored with the easy life,
the yawn of tidily undramatic lawns,
the sigh of plush rugs and cozy chairs,
the routine feeding of tame conformity,
and the false pretense of independence.
He sniffed the air one summer morning
and followed his adventurous instincts
into an exhausting journey of self-exile.
Discovering vestiges of wilderness,
the farm country, and the old barn,
he traded creature comforts for deeper needs.
April,1992 revised April,2004 February, 2006