Sums done in the heart

One, one and one equals three
if you think mathematically.

But sums done in the heart
have a subtler art –

Hazel plus Mabel plus me.


Hazel and Mabel are the cats I live with, who have just turned 12 and 7 years old respectively. This is their annual birthday poem.


Mabelline the dancing queen

was real sweet, she didn’t mean
to make a mess,

but when she saw
the earth, she couldn’t stop her paw

from digging down and shovelling up
mountains of the rich, wet stuff

until the plant sagged toward the ground
and silt and soil piled all around.

Then, with her tail puffed up for joy,
Mabel grabbed her favourite toy

and threw herself, while Mommy slept,

into the dirt dance.


In the morning, before dawn,
still dark, not a lightbulb on,

stumbling awake, Mom promptly trod
directly through those piles of sod.

She tracked them through the house and then
she turned and tracked them back again!

Wondering at her kitten’s glee,
Mom flicked the switch, so she could see…

and after she had sighed, and wept

took her broom and carefully swept…

while Mabel

threw herself into the dirt dance.


Audio version:

Written when Mabel was just wee, and published for her sixth birthday, 2014


When Hazel was a kitten, she

would climb the drapes,
wanting to see what life looked like from up above.
It wasn’t mischief, it was love! of exploration
and adventure. And folks, here’s where I should mention:
Haze was born into a barn, where climbing things could do no harm
and walking on the rafters was the favourite pastime of her cousins
who filled the barn in tens and dozens; from their perch, close to the sky
casting a protective eye
over the cows below.


When Hazel moved to city life she honed her skills in chasing mice:
some had little hearts that beat though most had plastic tails and feet.
Those plastic mousies ran Haze ragged, but they soon learned
her claws are jagged. And each toy mouse has lost its tail
to Hazel’s nails.


Now Hazel is a little older and, we say, a bit less bold,
she doesn’t swing from chandeliers or dangle from the chiffon sheers.
But she still claims the highest shelf, contentedly washing herself
and from her perch, close to the sky
casting a protective eye
over the house below.


Audio version:

Written when Hazel was 10 years younger, and published for her 11th birthday, 2014


Household parade

Like floats in the holding area,
cats sprawl on hardwood, tails

Woman puts her feet on the floor,
pushes out of bed, starts
to the hallway, rubbing her tousled head.

Cats leap into formation,
trotting behind, long tails waving,
proud victorious flags.