Jesus College, Oxford, pre-pandemic
Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Photos by Candia Dixon-Stuart
A gardener gave us brief directions
and we walked to Holy Trinity as
two believers in invisible cats
and curled up comfortably on its wall
was a very tangible companion.
Could this be a descendant of ‘step-cat‘
who ruled The Kilns; dominated the dog?
This was where Jack took his first Communion:
a mouse, finally captured by a cat –
or the quarry of The Hound of Heaven?
He didn’t metamorphose from a dog
immediately and other felines
did not recognise him as kin at first.
‘Cats,’ he said, ‘often don’t like each other;
they can be Pharisees who stare you out.’
‘Men must endure their going hence,’ proclaimed
the grave which nobody was visiting.
I placed two purloined Heartsease on the stone,
under unblinking, eye-slit surveillance
and thought about grey army blanket drapes;
those nicotine-stained ceilings; single beds;
Joy’s introduction of a Siamese.
That church cat was cool. It was convinced that
its whiskers could pass through a needle’s eye.
Lying in rows, there were sheep and some goats.
Often we don’t have an inkling as to
which is which: we transform at different rates.
Could this have been the cat who comforted
souls in the charnel houses of old? Or,
could it have been an erstwhile canine?
For this creature’s inscrutability
spoke of divine ineffability.
And all the while, it did not spring away,
but purred me towards an unseen lintel.
I expected gradual disappearance;
maybe some kind of cosmic benison.
But suddenly it was gone and a smile
seemed to hover over the whole graveyard.
I still believe in invisible cats.