When I am praying
or at least lying on my
bed alone thinking

of nothing, my cat —-
she who normally escapes
my grasp most featly —-

flops down next to me
and breathes little breaths in my
face. Missing as I

do that armful of
warm girl —- thighs, breasts, nipples, clit—-
I have a hard time

praying, and so my
cat keeps her distance, watching
from her sacred space.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

One thought on “That”

  1. This poem takes the reader through tensions of the male ego. We start with no-thingness of prayer. The self is emptied. This is the context for the cat and her breathing on hte poet. That very breath leads to reveries on the absent-departed-lover of the poet. This longing makes it hard to stay open to the no-thing-ness of prayer. As if in response, the cat opens distance htat removes the breathing which tirggers the reveries. But the poem has not simply brought us back to the beginning, hte no-thingness of prayer, since we are now praying in relation to, and at a distance from, the demiurge of the cat whose breath calls forth longing. Prayer thus touches that longing. Yet it is not simply suynonymous and exhausted by it. IUntead prayer is open to and opened by desire but opens beyond it and opens the poet to what lies beyond grief and longing while not represessing them but perhaps refocusing them.


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