© Kevin Pye

Winner, 2023 Humorous Section – Oracles of the Bush, Tenterfield NSW

At shearing time she came by train, attracted to the farm,
our second cousin's Aunty Maude, eccentric never calm,
from inner city suburb smog, in Peacock feathered hat
with carry cage and seat required for bush tailed Persian cat.

She loved to fuss around the shed just like a bantam chook
but to a man we all agreed, old Maudy girl could cook
and so we suffered her each year, with nods and winks and chat,
responding to her whimsy but–we really cursed her cat!

It sat each night upon her lap where it slept or preened and purred,
instead of somewhere out the back, where Dad would have preferred.
Mum kept her vege garden neat, weeds carefully despatched
until her morning fingers found deposits where it scratched.

It regally announced itself to Rusty on his chain
and with disdain, just out of reach, demented that dog's brain.
The free range hens that scratched about, went nesting in the hay
but then refused to leave the pen devoid of daily lay.

It found its way up to the shed, it sat to clean its claws,
remove the dust and clover seed from city softened paws.
It strolled across the greasy floor, its tail an upright mast
and rubbed against the tar boy's leg, to cause reaction fast!

The pale grey fur was well glued up where fell the blackened brush–
The tar boy spoke in shed hands' terms, he'd make a wharfie blush.
Old Aunty's task was none too flash–shampoo and comb her cat–
Sunsilk and Pears had no effect–Dad cried “Turps, just try that!”

Unkind I know to pull that one, a ruse unknown to some
but on that spot below a tail, Turps burns a cat's bare bum!
For sure the Turps would melt the tar but was it fair and right
to take advantage of old Maude, to witness Dad's delight?

So as I tossed the thought around, it came to me quite clear–
the only way to clean the cat was hold it down and shear.
I did not fancy fighting claws or punctures from its teeth
and I puzzled 'bout the long blow and belly underneath.

Despite her doubts, we made a pact, before tomorrow's bell,
I'd take due care and clean him up, with doubt the clip would sell.
I told Aunt Maude to hold it tight, my aim was not dissection
as I inserted Pentothal, animal injection!

Sedated Kitty lay there limp, I peeled away the fur,
then laid him in the 3A bin, with hopes that he would stir.
Aunt wrapped him in a fine wool shawl, her Pussy quiet and warm–
a Persian cat without its coat, takes on a deathly form!

Alas, the shock caused his demise, that night he passed away
and we all feigned agreement too with Dad's disguised dismay.
Mum took the burial in hand and said a little prayer
then gave to Maude a lock or two of finest Persian hair.

That week our shearing all cut out and Maude returned to home;
the hens and Rusty all behaved and I composed this poem
with two more lines that Dad gave me, one sworn into his hat
because her Christmas card advised she'd BOUGHT ANOTHER CAT!

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