Whatever happened to Mother’s china cat?

Henry, I never noticed before how much you look
Like Mother’s china cat. It was just about your size,
Rolled into the same resting mode like a large
Danish snail pastry.

Only, hers was black and brown and white
While you appear entirely black until I separate
Your strands of hair to see that some of them
Are brown.

Mother treasured her cat enough
To sew a rug of scrap cloth
For it to lie upon. Cat-on-rug at the foot of the highboy
In one corner of the living room
Was always there, except when she picked it up to dust it.

When we were children,
Nan and I sometimes tried to play with it
Although there is nothing a china cat can do –
Mere ornament, one of many manufactured,
Cold and somewhat heavy on young hands.

Seeing you rolled into yourself,
Chin on top of the tip of your tail,
Deeply sleeping
But would easily wake
Were I to say anything to you,
You are more than welcome here, Henry.

I do not know what happened to Mother’s china cat.
Perhaps one of the women hired to care
For her when she was old, stole it when Mother died.
It might have been valuable.
When Mother died, I did not think to see if it was there.

But this is not a comparison between the two of you.
If it were, Henry, you would win paws down.

Poems by Jonathan Bracker have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Northwest, Southern Poetry Review, and other periodicals, and in eight collections, the latest of which, from Seven Kitchens Press, is Attending Junior High. His Selected Poems is available from Amazon print-on-demand.