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Monday, 21 June 2010

Looking Back


File:Serval looking back.jpg

Standing perfectly still

in the savannah, with eyes closed,

for a quarter of an hour,

listening. There is a sound.

There is a wrong stink in the tall grass.

They are the children of gods,

they say, O serval, and

It's too late now.

They're gaining on you.

Standing perfectly still

in the savannah, eyes wide open,

for a quarter of an hour,


File:Serval portrait.jpg

File:Serval in Tanzania.jpg

Male serval, Sabi Sands, South Africa: photos by Lee R. Burger, 2007
Leptailurus serval, Serengeti, Tanzania: photo (lower) by Budgiekiller, 2005


Curtis Roberts said...

Thank you for giving the magnificent serval a poem and her due.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Not one word too many (or too few) and each so very perfectly placed. Beautiful and devastating ...

"a wrong stink in the tall grass"

"It's too late now."

TC said...

Thank you very much Curtis and Don.

(It's horrible to think that the serval cat is hunted for its beauteous pelt and even worse to think that anyone would dare wear it.)

Curtis Roberts said...

Yes, extremely horrible. The serval fascinated me from the first time I saw its picture a very long time ago in my cat surveying days. When you see one in person (in my case either in zoos, including a really good one in Cape May County, NJ, with very large enclosures or open space for the animals, or at a quite interesting place called Outragehiss Pets Children's Learning Center in Chestnut Ridge, NJ), the serval is clearly a formidable creature, a real cat superstar.

TC said...

I was interested to learn the serval has the longest legs, relative to body size, of any cat, and that it can quickly reach a running speed of fifty mph.

Its high intelligence is legendary.

The listening with eyes closed for fifteen minutes would seem an admirable exercise in concentration.

TC said...

A day at the office for the serval

Curtis Roberts said...

The serval film is quite something and brings back and adds to long mousing memories (all involving my various cats; I don't mouse). It's a curious subject, but if you know cats, you know mousing.

TC said...


As recipients of many an unsolicited feline mousing trophy, we can say only, yes, mixed feelings on this subject.

Curtis Roberts said...

Very mixed feelings, indeed, except for my admiration at their powers concentration and attention to detail. Fortunately, with our indoor cats, we've often been able to save the mice and shoo them outside, generally waving brooms and looking ridiculous in the process.

AJP Crown said...

I love the horizontal black & white stripes on its ears, in the film.

TC said...

And what astonishing ears they are, AJP. All the better to hear us with.

Curtis, we have had mice brought in by cats, and for that matter sometimes brought in by their own devices, who have disappeared into the innards of the house and never been seen or heard from again.

(The first night we moved into this house I concluded it was haunted, and since then there's been nothing but empirical corroboration.)


We were talking at Heidegger reading last night (at Bob's house) about whether cats can hear bats at night. Now we're reading these comments, and Johnny's just said, "let's go back to the pictures. . . . what amazing big ears you have!

TC said...

My reaction to these photos is always the same as Johnny's.

Anonymous said...

The hunted hunter. How sad...

The mood of the poem, its rhytm, its carefully chosen words and even its circular structure recreate the scene perfectly. First what the prey fears may happen and then it becoming sadly true.

TC said...

Yes, the alert senses of this animal are not so hard to "feel one's way into"... and then to sense the danger approaching in the grass.