An Unused Catflap

'An Unused Catflap' by Richard Sharp

Title: An Unused Catflap; Medium: Acrylic; Price: €480.

An Unused Catflap in County Clare


Six poets sipping sorrel in a small conservatory,
Observing — jokily remarking upon — the dedicated
Ingress and egress for a cat, a cat that does not,
As yet, exist. Comings and goings that leave no trails nor cautionary
Tales. A cat hypothesised. Of Persian provenance perchance
Or conceivably from Kilkenny. A cat that will, at the unfolding
Of time, become and be known as ‘Pushkin’ or ‘Puskas’ or suchlike,
This fine forthcoming cat, proud in its necklace that proclaims
Its private sesame: ‘this gate is mine and mine alone’:
His own — and hitherto untraversed — catflap in County Clare.

Neighbours’ cats assuredly, birthrights of way inherited,
Generation upon generation, ancient suspicions harboured,
Staring until my garden’s owner is utterly stared out,
Implying that ownership necessarily involves construction; then
To negotiate with builders over features: shall the extension
Have this or that? Be such or thus? The size, the colouring, the type
Of glass, the placement of points, the guttering — exacting to decide.
One choice alone requires no time, discussion, careful thought:
A tick by ‘catflap’ in an instant, culminating career-long
Preparation — one easy ‘yes’ — all else may take its course.

And I have traipsed this weary world around, the rising
Madhumati waters, the blistering Bahr al Ghazai, horrors
In Ruhengeri, endeavouring to apply appropriate solutions
To others’ urgent and unfathomable problems. Acting out
My first eight stages, half a century’s foundation
For the final and significant performance. Such days
Must come (or else the days thus far are meaningless)
When I may share a lifetime’s hard-won wisdom,
Lessons acquired in exploration, accepted with a knowing
Quizzicality and with the familiar opening of a tin.

Somewhat, as I just said, suppositional. But something
Rather more than just a vague idea of a sometime cat,
For I am already holding him in my arms, lost in
His fluffiness, feeling his warmth, sensing his tenseness,
His pounding heart as I endure the danger zones by Karkaar
Or the treacherous tracks north-east of Poreporena. Thus
I anticipate that place of geographic permanence, softly
Rehearse the saucering of cream, strut out of time’s dimension,
Gaze lazily at movements above the birdbath, consider rain from
Our differing perspectives, through the self-same set of curtains.

Do not expect announcements, carved vividly
In summer hailstones. Just the ascent of honeysuckle
Steadily about the artificial obelisk, evening’s eventuality,
Lulled fragrant by the swaying lupins, an unwariness
Of wisteria, perennial companionship of catnip among
The hybrid roses, peace. And it is then, stealthily by sunset,
That I shall make my move — my twilight pounce —
My leaping from itinerancy into immovability and a regularly
Tended garden. And an open house for my cat, for no cat
Save my cat, my own cat, and no more need be said.

© Mike Douse


Photo of Richard SharpRichard Sharp was born in 1954 in Belfast. He lives in Quilty and farms in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare. His medium is either acrylic or Oil/gloss and all his subject matter is local.


Photo of Mike DouseMike Douse has worked in education, mostly internationally, for over half a century and is currently in Dhaka helping put together a programme of EU support to Bangladesh’s schools. He lives in Ennis with his dear wife Patricia and is a keen (though frequently long-distance) member of the Poetry Collective.

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