The swallows are diving with snickering shrieks
To slash at the crouched cat’s ears:
She half-heartedly flashes at snip-snapping beaks;
Then, tail lashing, she disappears.
We have these three cats. There’s her half-brother,
Sunning himself out in the yard.
Neither him nor their calmly reclining mother
Are those swallows minded to ward:
It was she last year clawed down the chicks they’d begotten;
They are clear and sharp in their fears:
They have flown round the world, but never forgotten
Her stripes and the shape of her ears.