Angel by Harlow S. Clark

Bastet Walters Art Museum

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels
— Colossians 2:18

She thinks I am praying to her
Kneeling before her
Extending my hands to her

Her Egyptian ancestors earned their worship
Guarding food from mice, fighting cobras
Giving shape to perfume and ointment jars

Instead she beguiles her reward of me
Butting my hand with her head
Working her head under my palm
Waiting for my stroke along neck, back and tail
A nip on hand or arm if I don’t start over

When I stand she jumps off the bed
Sleeks the cat-lengths to the kitchen door
Leading me, pointing me, to her food
She does not worry that a full bowl may stale
She wants to see my hand go into the bag
To know there’s extra to cover the toy mice who live in her bowl

II

See thou do it not
–Revelation 22:9

“Angel’s gotten into a bag of feathers under the bed”
Soft as down, but not down
Scattered down the floor
Clumps of tortoise shell instead
Too late in the year to shed
No, she’s pulling hair from any place she can groom

No fleas in Utah, vet says, giving allergy shot
Clumps still scatter the floor
Cats can be OCD, Internet says, they don’t like change
She didn’t pull her hair for the rabbits
(Since killed by neighboring dogs)
Just snubbed Matthew for a time, times, half a time

A shot of progestrone helps OCD, vet says, but fur still downs the floor
Even “Listen Missy Moo, what do you think you’re doing?”
Doesn’t clean the floor
Her lower half shifts from tortoise shell to pink
When she sits her haunches, front legs holding her in a half stand
She looks less like Egyptian-mice-fattened Bastet
Than a scraggly, starving stray

Seeking my hand on her head
She looks more like one to pray for than to

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Harlow Clark lives and writes in Pleasant Grove, Utah, with his wife and son. In the year since Harlow wrote “Angel,” Matthew has transformed the play yard swing set and slide into a dog-proof rabbit cage and gotten two rabbits, who spent much of January and February in the downstairs bathtub after the weatherman advised bringing pets into the garage the family doesn’t have for the night. He is still cleaning the rabbit stains out of the tub. Matthew also has goldfish, bettas, assorted tropicals and 2 acquatic frogs swimming around the house. Angel stopped pulling out her hair for a time, but during the winter it has been appearing all over the house, though not as bad as before.