The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
     It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
     Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo, or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey—
     All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
     Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter—
     But all of them sensible everyday names,
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
     A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
     Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
     Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum—
     Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
     And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
     But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
     The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
     Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
          His ineffable effable
          Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular name.

From Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Copyright © 1939 by T. S. Eliot, renewed © 1967 by Esme Valerie Eliot. Used with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Copyright © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.

translated by Rosa Alcalá

                          To bear another, to be a pair
                          To be torn apart

I heard it said,
“Evil was invented
to give us something
to talk about”

But how to speak
if each syllable
falls into the sea

The m of mother
                     drifting away
                                  other, other
                                            where have you gone?

The f of father
                     sinking further down
                                  ather, ather
                                            where have you gone?

They didn’t fall
                     They were thrown

to leave us
           without speech
           to drown our words.

 


Los desaparecidos

                          par han sido

Oí decir
“el mal se inventó
para tener de qué hablar”

Pero cómo hablar
si las sílabas
caen al mar?

La m de madre
                     se va
                                  adre, adre
                                                                         ¿dónde estás?

La p de padre
                     se hunde un poco más allá
                                                                         adre, adre
                                                                                                ¿dónde estás?

Los lanzaron
                     de adré
dejándonos sin hablar.

Copyright © 2021 by Cecilia Vicuña and Rosa Alcalá. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.