Setting Her by the Ears

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.