Lullaby for Stomp the Cat
by Sarah Ruden
Rest! Drool with pleasure in my arms,
Phenomenon of lethal charms.
I see you fluffy, ten weeks old.
You smirk. We’re too surprised to scold.
The kitchen floor is purple-black:
You’ve worked a bottle from the rack.
A click of claw—the heater’s on.
A flick of paw—the dog is gone.
But these, we learned, were minor stunts,
For soon—ah!—you began to hunt.
God grant you everything you wish:
Dynamite for killing fish,
An anti-aircraft gun for birds,
A repertoire of handy words:
Like “sorry,” “I,” “forgot,” “to,” “say,”
“Just,” “borrowed,” “your,” “big,” “knife,” “today.”
I hear Creation click and whir
In you, dear bag of fur and purr--
In you, Destruction’s polymath.
Sleep, my little psychopath.
© 2015 by National Review, Inc. Reprinted by permission.
Sarah Ruden was born in rural Ohio and raised in the United Methodist Church. She is a “convinced Friend” or Quaker convert of twenty years’ standing. She holds a Ph.D. in Classical Philology from Harvard University and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. She has taught Latin, English, and writing at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Cape Town, and has been a tutor for the South African Education and Environment Project, an education-enrichment nonprofit in Cape Town. She was a scholar in residence for three years at Yale Divinity School and a Guggenheim fellow, and is now a visiting scholar at Brown University.
She is a poet, translator, essayist, and popularizer of Biblical linguistics. A collection of her poetry, Other Places (William Waterman Publications, 1995, later distributed by HarperCollins) won the South African Central News Agency Literary Award, and her poems appear in The National Review and religious periodicals. She made use of her experience in publishing several book-length translations of pagan literature to write Paul among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time (Knopf, 2010). The Music Inside the Whale, and Other Marvels: A Translator on the Beauty of the Bible will be forthcoming from Knopf in 2015.