This lovely beast is Doorkins, the Southwark Cathedral cat. She was a stray who moved in and stayed, and now has an international fan following. When I was working on the garden poems project in the Dean’s garden earlier this year, I was asked for a poem for her. My family has had three similarly decisive cats – they just dropped us a memo saying your house is our house now, claimed all the sunny spots and never moved out – so I was very happy to write something. I don’t think I’ve written a cat poem before. I’ve definitely not written a cathedral poem before. When I went to meet her, she was elusive in a familiar fashion.
Looking for Doorkins
I started with Shakespeare. His alabaster lap
must, I thought, provide the ideal spot
for a cat the colour of rain on stone to sleep.
She wasn’t there. Nor could I find her stretched out
in the chapel or curled among the tombs
or tucked like a hassock underneath a pew.
The candle flames I saw were candle flames
and not the flicker of a feral, feline eye.
So now, you try. You play this game of hide
and seek. That squeak in the organ – was it her?
Is that her in the scratches on the Bishop’s Throne?
Stand by a stained glass window, count to a hundred
and perhaps you’ll see her padding by, her fur
a flare of green and gold and purple sun.