Higher Grace?

What wonder...
To be a cat in the kingdom of the gods:
To sleep at their hearths,
To eat of the food that falls from their tables
And drink their blessings of milk from smooth saucers.
And when they caress my fur, how beautiful I feel!
To be attended so generously by their grace,
To be given free run of their palaces,
Their gardens, their stony cities.

Even the grim-faced god of the alley,
Hunched over, smelling of sweat and urine,
Though he has no cream for me, no morsels for my little snout,
Still listens to me and even
Pets me from time to time,
And I can feel the immensity of his strength
Beneath the kindly brushing of his soiled hand.

Once I asked myself:
Who are their gods?
Do they worship one another,
Or do they vie with each other for the favor of some higher race of gods:
The gods of the gods?

From a dark doorstep, I watched two gods fighting,
And, strange to tell, one struck the other down.
I remembered how I had once killed a squirrel that had fallen out of a tree.
The god bled with the blood of that squirrel,
Only there was more blood in him.
The other slipped away,
And I watched the bleeding god, waiting for some sign of motion,
But nothing.
I crept out of the doorway, padding through his blood,
Till I came to his sad, giant head.
Gently I nosed his face,
Brushed against his hair, meowed in his ear.
Still no movement, nothing.
The great shining beasts that crush all furry-folk,
The rolling, terrible monsters that roar through the cities of the gods
Would never have made a squirrel or possum more dead
Than this god was dead.

Once I asked myself:
Who are the gods of the gods?
Now I know
That there is only one god:
The god of the rotting fang,
God of the naked shadow-claw
That prowls unseen through sun and darkness,
Through city and wood,
Through open cornfields
And by the side of the road,
Restless through palaces and gutters;
Creeping into windows and doorways,
Even into the softness of sleeping-places...
To hunt and devour
     All that stir,
     All that breathe.

George Chadderdon © 2000