Cats and Immigrants

“I saw you– standing in line–
perhaps I could help– but perhaps
we don’t speak the same language?” Washing
a front paw, discreetly
not making eye contact. Cats speak
the same language world-wide, dear sir
just like refugees. My stripy coat
and your black-and-white tuxedo should be no barrier
to communication. Speaking of barriers, did you notice
that I didn’t stand behind the IMMIGRATION-printed Lexan
for very long? Queueing
is not a cat thing. As you well know, sir.

These alleys to me are unread pages
but his feet have them bookmarked. Alone, I’d navigate
by dead reckoning or dumb luck– he just goes from roof to roof
with unconscious native pride. All places are alike to me.
Every Chamber of Commerce’s list of civic assets
reads the same in time. And I’ve padded
so many lands in weary exile, a cat from far away.

Perhaps we’ll settle down, have kittens
in a cardboard box on a heating grate. Perhaps
I’ll be on another slow boat by spring.
Cat language takes me everywhere, citizen pride
only one place– but it’s the best place (they will tell you)
the best place in the world.

Tiel Aisha Ansari

About Tiel Aisha Ansari

Tiel Aisha Ansari is a Sufi, martial artist, and data analyst living in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has appeared in Fault Lines Poetry, Windfall, Verseweavers, The Lyric, Mascara, and an Everyman's Library anthology, among others. Her poetry has been featured on KBOO, Prairie Home Companion and MiPoRadio and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her collection Knocking from Inside is available from Ecstatic Exchange, and her chapbook High-Voltage Lines from Barefoot Muse Press. Visit her online at and
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