PETRARCH'S CAT

After the Latin inscription beneath the mummified feline purporting to be the poet’s pet at the Casa Petrarcha in Arquà Petrarca, Padua.

Petrarch that Etruscan poet bore
a double flame of love within his breast:
Laura was the lesser; I the best.
Why do you laugh? Although it’s true she wore
a form divine, yet I was to the fore
more faithful. While her inspiration blessed
his holy books of verse, I kept the pest
that would devour them from my master’s door.
These centuries past I stand here guarding still,
a dusty prop for tourists. I suffice,
even in death, my ready teeth and claws
to guard his words eternal from the mice
and rats for all posterity, my will

fierce yet to give the nibbling critics pause.

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