The internet says science is not sure
how cats purr, probably
a vibration of the whole larynx,
unlike what we do when we talk.
Less likely, a blood vessel
moving across the chest wall.
As a child I tried to make every cat I met
purr. That was one of the early miracles,
the stroking to perfection.
Here is something I have never heard:
a feline purrs in two conditions,
when deeply content and when
mortally wounded, to calm themselves,
readying for the death-opening.
The low frequency evidently helps
to strengthen bones and heal
Say poetry is a human purr,
vessel mooring in the chest,
a closed-mouthed refuge, the feel
of a glide through dying.
One winter morning on a sunny chair,
inside this only body,
a far-off inboard motorboat
sings the empty room, urrrrrrrhhhh
-from Winter Sky: New and Selected Poems, 1968–2008. © University of Georgia Press, 2008.
[First posted September 29, 2008]