Letter to Cat Woman:
Dearest villainous feline,
part-time crook, part-time
crusader, I am only a man,
like any of those who flock to see your body
stitched into that leather get-up.
They are birds, those men,
come back to earth to investigate
the curve of the thigh, the swell of the breast,
the dual role you play of beauty
and danger. To me
they are one and the same.
Forget Batman, that dark mess of the mind.
He is so caught up in gadgets,
so caught up in protecting us
from each other and ourselves,
that he never thinks to compare you
to an Egyptian goddess, never reveres you
as I do. This sounds jealous, and
I don’t mean to infer emotion.
You are a purely sexual being, S&M,
a young man’s raging fantasy; the whip
coiled at your hip could slip loose
and give the flesh a scarring embrace. Your claws,
steel talons sewn into the leather
fingertips of your identity, could razor the finest hairs
from the most inexperienced cheek.
You could probably resurrect the dead,
enter a graveyard, your human self
covered in a second skin, stand
over the sinking earth, and call upon
every unsleeping voice of night
to sing animation to the flesh, dance to the bones;
the sway of the ocean to the heart, the sound of the ocean
to the brain. Immortality
is yours, or so it would seem to those of us
limited to these unrelivable years. We are memories. I speak
for everyone now.
I speak of envy. I speak of your feral magic,
the way your body is more than human,
supersexual, which is, these days, considered a crime.
Don’t you know how wrong it is to be desirable,
putting on a costume like that, enhancing
your gender with animal connotation…
well, you know the derogatory names…
Puss in Boots; Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat,
where have you been?...you know,
the labels of the body. Cat Woman,
I’d like to say no one knows you
as I do, but that would be a lie. I don’t
even know the location of your secret
hideout. What is it like? Is it wall-to-wall
plush carpet, so you can scratch and sharpen your nails?
Do you have bowls on the floor for milk and cream…
do the mice avoid your walls and cabinets…do all your lovers
make you scream and wail?
Or is it more simple than that…
an apartment in the city, brown and drab
like any other, with a view of the river,
fast food remnants and newspaper refuse
strung across the banks? Do you have no lovers at all?
Are you alone? Are you beautiful
and dangerous and still alone?
I know you must be thinking
that I should get to the point,
but there isn’t one. This is just me thinking to you, me
desiring you, me believing
in you. You will always be addicted
to those who hurt you…there
is no breaking that pattern.
The bruises will rise
under the fist of the full moon. Another jewelry store
will be cleaned out, and the security
video will be played over and over again
because it will be you on film,
a woman in a cat suit shattering glass
and setting off alarms.
Each man will shift
a little in the glow of the playback.
And they, like I, will hope
you get away. I want you
free and wild, so that one day I might see you
from high in my office as I perch
on the edge of my humdrum chair. Then
I will return to my work, thinking of everything
you might have touched.
A moment so slow, silk upon the skin,
you must leave it because it will never leave you.
Tubular buds of lilies tease breezes
closer for just a passing touch, a soft word lifted
from a quiet conversation, a nothing
so sweet that even the world must shiver.
Someone across the earth from where you sit
right now remembers something they think must be
the reason they fell in love. If you remember
anything, let it be a cloud so low it breaks
over hill tops―let it be a flurry of theology
as petals drop from a dogwood (godwood) ―
let it be an unfettered buzzing
around every bloom―let it be the naked ecstasy
of spring that enters every bedroom
no matter who we are with―or even alone.
Even slower, the moment to follow hesitates and almost
recedes into the shadow of something exotic―let it be
the nook of a tree branch where an orchid stares down
with open-faced surprise―let it be the meeting of earth
and rhizome above which an iris unfolds itself
to the sun―let it be the uncomplicated reason of stones
learning the smooth philosophy of water.
Tomorrow, someone else will open the door
of another sexual cage and walk out into the light―
sunlight, moonlight, starlight, bioluminescence,
disco, candlelight, inner glow. Let it be the man
across the street who lets the grass grow
despite the complaints of the neighbors―let it be
the high school boy afraid his parents will look at him
that way―let it be the girl
whose dolls have the most attractive bumps. And then
the wind picks up to brush our fears away―
if only they would go away―out
into the middle of nowhere to wither and fade. The sun breaks
the clouds into a flurry of birds and butterflies and bees
to lie down upon a hillside where all the lovers go
for exactly what you might think. Let it be
a fumbling hand that feels so good
upon your unclothed skin―let it be the rush and tingle
of the body that makes you feel a part of something
new―let it be that moment, so slow,
that makes us all nothing
and everything and anything we want.
Did you know that the honey badger has
the largest testicles by body weight
in all known mammals?
That is not what I wanted to say.
I wanted to tell you that
I’ve been unfaithful, that
nothing I say can ever make you trust me again, that
my behavior is my choice, not a sickness,
and I must accept my own
bad judgment. You, however,
do not. You can leave.
I’ve heard that
some birds mate for life.
Cats and dogs do not. I wish that
I could change
the past. I wish that
we were birds.