Here Sleeps the Cat with the Ginger Stripes

Here is a poem about our family cat, which I was overjoyed to see published this summer in the caterpillar. The poem is my revenge, really, on the beautiful and superbly selfish feline we call Orlando. As she’s a ginger female, she is constantly misgendered. Perhaps that accounts for her notoriously short fuse, but her name is a reference to both the much-loved ‘Orlando the Marmalade Cat’, and to Virginia Woolf’s more mysterious creation.
Anyway, the point is, our cat does not like to be disturbed.

The drawing, by Wiebke Rauers, really couldn’t have been better. She might have been nipped herself. Here’s the poem because I can’t get WordPress to let you enlarge the pic by clicking on it!

How the Cat with the Ginger Stripes Goes to Sleep

She does it by yawning, once.
By locating a pool
of yellow sunshine.
By claiming the sofa – it’s mine.

Here sleeps the cat with the ginger stripes –
don’t wake her up ‘cos she bites!

She does it by arching her back, twice.
She puts her four neat paws so they touch.
She oodles around in a slow blur,
this marmalade cat with the strokeable fur.

Here sleeps the cat with the ginger stripes –
don’t wake her up ‘cos she bites!

She does it by snuggling whisker-deep
in the velvet plump of a cushion.
She does it by coiling her striped orange tail
round her little white paws like a snail.

Here sleeps the cat with the ginger stripes –
don’t wake her up ‘cos she bites!

She does it by closing
her bright green eyes.
She curls up in the sunshine’s pocket.
But just in case you still haven’t got it –

Here sleeps the cat with the ginger stripes –
don’t wake her up ‘cos she bites!

I often use this poem when I’m in schools, with the children doing the repeating lines, complete with snapping fingers on the word ‘bites’.

the caterpillar is a beautifully produced and illustrated magazine of stories, poems and art for children. It’s published four times a year and edited by Rebecca O’Connor. John Hegley chose the caterpillar as one of his ‘top ten children’s poetry books’ in The Guardian and it’s not even a book, or a poetry book! More people should know!

You can purchase a single copy for €7, or an annual subscription (4 issues) for  just €28 (Ireland/UK) or €32 (rest of world) here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s