Star On My Street

Before I proceed any further, I shouldParenthetic'ly pause in my taleFor writing a chapter (also called interlude)Whose hero – though part of the plot –I am glad to inform is notA stray cat (either male or female). There's no epithet apt to explainThe cat I'm about to bring in.Therefore I'd much rather be plainAnd tell you I mean Parsnipin. Parsnipin… Mark me well,I'm not telling you twice –The name should be ringing a bell.For the moment that ought to suffice For you all to be able to guessWho this cat really is – the cat I dare callThe most famous of allCats that live in our town (more or less) –A cat so sublimeHe's been honored in rhyme,While his portraits proclaim Far and wide his great fame. Stardom's one of his boonsFor he stars in cartoons –The best ever seenOn a TV-set screen. Such amazing success,All that fame bound to spread –You could all see it coming, I guess:Popularity got to his head. There's no need to ask why –As he simply walks by,People flock from afar For a glimpse of the star; Windows swing open wide,Kids forget homework and all gather outside,Branches bow to the ground,The whole neighborhood gathers around. Cars are forced to one side,Drivers have to go slow,He is longingly eyed,In cat manner, you know… He's welcome with flowers,With salt and with bread,He's handed a letterTo be, hopefully, read,Every one's joining inWith cries of "Parsnipin!" He advances, erect and aloof, through the crowd,He dispenses advice, he is sitting in courtTo hear the case of the mother hen clucking loudHer complaint of some cat who is hunting for sport. In view of his growing repute,Parsnipin's manner makes sense –He's grown rather big for his bootsAnd believes that his role is immense. It is always, therefore, a surpriseHe reacts to my voice, after all(As long as I add for a prizeA poem whenever I call). Though a starAt the height of his fame,He responds, it appears,As it were, from afar,To the sound of his name,Ringing like some remote,Even unclear,Footnote Reminding him deep in his soulWho should be in control. The communist censorship was quick to construe Ana Blandiana's poem as a vicious attack against dictator's Nicolae Ceausescu's addiction to popularity. Though put under house arrest and forbidden to publish as a consequence, the author was most piqued by the abusive association of her own pet, who was the actual hero of her poem, with the brutal dictator. (Florin BICAN)

by Ana Blandiana (b. 1942)