“Familiar” by Sue Churchill
The stray cat in the loft
owns the barn.
Though the farmers shoo her,
she returns, claiming her place
through her own knowing.
She knows its long blanks of silence.
she knows the fullness of its motion
from swallow to owl to snake to mouse to spider to fly.
She has caught what moves in the soil under the manger.
She knows how to slip behind the barn door
in a pinch. She knows the back ways
from loft to ground and ground to loft–
where the roof leaks, where the wind
pierces, where the night marauders come,
claws sharpened for tearing, tunneling.
She sounds no alarm, but she is first to hear
their visitations, unnoticed by the large and loud.
The cat knows where the slant of sunset
touches the straw in the rick each season.
She knows more than the sheep,
more than the donkey, more
than the rooster or hens. She knows
because she has inhabited the place
fully, stretched herself in each corner,
nosed each crevice
and watched and stayed,
watched and stayed,
till it was home.
From *Toward the Fold Poems *by Sue Churchill, copyright 2020, Reprinted by permission of Workhorse Press.
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