Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Never shave a cat until May and other morning thoughts

The problem for a woman in contemplating how she feels so very out of sorts with her own time is knowing that in order to succeed in any other time, she would have had to be a man of a certain class, and also to possess a certain amount of luck in escaping bacteria and viruses. Maybe she doesn't want to be a man, despite the helpfulness of the right body parts in most eras. And maybe she doesn't have a time machine, anyway.

*

I'm grateful to Dickinson for staying home and for avoiding publication and the tidying-up of her work to fit the times. How terrible it would have been to have had the sharp edges ground down. How terrible to have a Mrs. Emily Dickinson Somebody who died in childbirth and never reached the ecstatic heights of later years.

*

When I woke up this morning, I read John Simon's post on rhyme, which I recommend to anyone interested in the subject. He left out the crazy freedom of rhyme, though, and I find that people generally do leave out rhyme as way to freedom. Following rhyme is like swinging out on a trapeze bar with the choice of innumerable other flying trapezes to grab--at its best, the chosen one will sail the poet away into new thoughts and new places never dreamed in free or blank verse philosophies.

*

The last steps before sending out a manuscript are the easiest and the hardest. The writer already feels done with the book after grinding through it many times, and so it's hard to push through one more time to check for errors introduced in revision and small, overlooked problems. No book has ever matched the fire in the head (though I suppose a downright narcissist might believe in that burning achievement), so a final read is inevitably a mixture of pleasure and pain.

*
I shaved the blue persian for spring but now it is winter again, and the poor Puffcat is chilled. Meanwhile, Theodora, the long-haired calico with prodigious whiskers, knows a shaved cat is wrong and bites her. Now the Puffcat spends all day on my bed, curled in the down coverlet, or else pressed close to a little radiator. Theodora hisses and spits, still indignant, and bounces out of the bedroom. The Puffcat is now a quarter of her former size. She seldom moves from her nest in the coverlet, and I wonder if she is, in fact, dying. She does, after all, have a heart murmur. Or is she just cold? She has always been a cat of little brain (though her heart is full of love) with a liking for sleep. I feel a bit guilty. Never shave a cat until May.

7 comments:

  1. I never heard of shaving a cat! Egads! The evoked images remind of when I tried to bathe a Siamese cat. Huge mistake!

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    1. I am afraid that I am not very good at keeping up with the time-consuming grooming that a Persian requires. Eventually, if not shaved, she would become a felted hat on peg legs. She was a gift, and I had no idea that Persians needed to be combed for ages daily and also frequently bathed.

      She used to have a royal name, but she proved to have very bad, low, common habits. That may be simply because she cannot remember her way around the house. I am not sure.

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  2. Morning smiles, thanks to these short short tales, though feeling sorry for Puffcat. Hope the snow melts fast.

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    1. It seems we will have ten days of cold with a bit of warmth in the middle. Poor Puffcat!

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  3. the series of mysteries by frances and richard lockridge feature two siamese named "Stilts" and "Shadow". they occasionally assist in the solution of crimes; and commonly carry on like a pair of ocelots. they've been known to eat manuscripts, so...WATCH OUT!

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    Replies
    1. They sound like a fun pair! I used to have a Burmese that is still my Cat of Cats. Not sure anybody could ever love me more than that cat!

      The Puffcat would never eat a manuscript, but Theodora has been known to eat poetry and fiction and children's homework. She particularly likes to eat the corners off the pages but she has been known to shred whole pages.

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    2. And now I know two more Mudpuddle facts. Mudpuddle must like mysteries and probably cats as well.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.