Friday, February 5, 2016

Poetry Friday: Response to Picasso's Sculpture of a Cat

Response to Picasso’s sculpture of a Cat

She’s pregnant, this cat
or just given birth. She’s muddy;
her tail's been broken.
Look at her neck, stiff

as a stanchion. Look at her compact
head; so ill-made for big thoughts
you fear her tail is pulling
her backwards. She isn’t curled

by contentment, or preying
with merciless grace, or cagily
sinuous. Still—
she is Cat. She disdains

opinion. You can tell
by the vainglorious shine
of her ears, as if she is listening to
an undivided convent

of cats chanting her name
lapping up her blessing
as she passes them. She has lived
fully; they have been holy.

Picasso stretched time between
sculptures; using his brush to pry apart
skulls, turning to his hands only when the Muse
purred to him. He was never trained

to mold clay or pour bronze but
what he made, he kept
close. They fattened
his household. Did he speak

to Cat? Attempt to straighten
her tail, even as she hissed? How do
you feed a Muse who doesn’t need
you? She’s given birth; he stirs mud.

                        ----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Thanks to Liz Garton Scanlon for discovering the intriguing Picasso sculptures, which provided the inspiration for this month's ekphrastic poetry challenge. (The Poetry Seven plans to respond to an image or piece of art every other month in 2016.  I'm already researching which artist to choose when it's my turn...)

Here are the links to my Poetry Sisters' poems (each of us chose a Picasso sculpture from a select group, so there's some overlap in the inspiration images, but glorious uniqueness in the response!)

Andi (taking a breather this month)

More about Picasso's sculptures.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by one of the Poetry Seven's own, Tricia, at The Miss Rumphius Effect.


  1. Oh, Sara --
    "the vainglorious shine
    of her ears" is a perfect and heavenly line.
    And then there's this:
    "How do
    you feed a Muse who doesn’t need
    I LOVE that -- it belongs in the grand cannon of lines about the Muse. This is such a fine, fine poem. Congratulations....

  2. There are so many beautiful turns of phrase in this poem, but I think I envy pet-owners most of all for pets which "fatten" their household. Would that we could all have such gifts which give back to us in that way.

  3. I never noticed how lumpy this creature was until I read your poem and was forced to look more closely. I'm glad you saw her up close. I thought more about the artist than the piece when I wrote, so I'm glad you have done what I failed to do.

    My favorite lines are "she is Cat. She disdains/opinion."
    Don't they all?

    This is altogether a beautiful poem.

  4. How DO you feed a Muse who doesn't need you? I love this entire poem, and as I commented in the Google doc, something about this reminds me of TS Eliot's "The Naming of Cats", and their effable ineffable effanineffable names. Love it.

  5. OMG Sarah, this is wonderful! All of it is my favorite. And this: " She has lived
    fully; they have been holy." Yowza!!

  6. Oh--this is just wonderful. From her not being "curled by contentment" to listening to that undivided convent / of cats chanting her name. To the capital Cat :>) Your poem is like a shining gift. Oh! And vainglorious. Perfect.

  7. I like how you started me off pitying Cat, but then showed me that she'll have none of that, thankyouverymuch.

  8. I love how rounded the story of this cat is. :)


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