A cat, still very wild, thirsts in a desert.
An island in a sea of sand,
an ethereal woman, too kind,
a thirst is quenched,
and past lives remembered.
The cat perches on a lap,
content for a decade.
A hundred sandstorms sweep over the oasis,
the woman is joined by girls,
she becomes something more.
The cat returns, speckled fur turned solid black,
and perches in the woman's lap.
The woman turns to mist,
one of her girls takes up the veil,
and the cat perches in her lap.
It dies there,
but does not perch there a second time.
When it returns, a litter in tow,
the girl-turned-woman has mistified,
and a new girl-turned-woman bears the veil.
The cat perches in a new lap,
and its new yellow fur is stroked.
New laps, new fur,
new fur, new laps.
When the cat returns with orange fur and scars,
it hisses advice.
When the cat returns old and fat and shiny-furred,
it purrs counsel.
The veil is passed down,
and the cat returns and quenches its thirst.
The cat and the veil watch a thousand, thousand souls pass,
they watch the oasis cleanse,
and the cat spites and the wonders and the cat is indifferent.
The cat is cleansed, and it returns,
to drink and be cleansed
again, and again, and again.
It spites its fur, its claws, its tail,
wonders at it fur, its claws, its tail,
is indifferent towards the men and women and children it comes across between laps and veils and drinks and cleanses.
One day, the cat looks at its paws,
so different from its first feral pair,
and it is curious.
What sort of hands would I have?
The girl-turned-woman, the veil, is surprised.
If I were reborn a man, I mean.
The cat, so curious, splays its claws,
the closest it has to hands.
Though, I suppose I'd have to be a boy first.
Or a girl.
This girl-turned-woman is cheeky.
They say my kind have nine lives,
the cat stands in its latest lap,
but I have lived nine thousand lives,
each with fur, claws, and often a tail.
You want to be human.
This girl-turned-woman is observant.
I am curious.
You are a cat.
The cat leaps from the lap.
Don't be a parrot, love. Feathers do not suit you.
And the viel smiles mournfully,
a woman, not a girl-turned,
and a child is born in a far off, lonely valley,
no fur, no claws, no tail,
with ravenous curiosity,
and a bone-deep desire for claws,
with which to escape and explore.