January 1987

“Ninja,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 21


Ninja her name.

Secret-agent in Japanese.

This long-limbed black cat,

the petted resident of our house.

Walker of piano-keys,

Fisher in the gold-fish bowl.

The Youngest hugs her to his knees

and strokes with gentle touch

her midnight soul.

Ninja her name.

(Secret-agent in Japanese.)

She can hear the refrigerator door

from down the hall,

the car arriving home from school,

and be there on the stairs

yawning off her nap.

The children chatter over her

and squabble as to turns

at lavishing school news

in her indifferent ear.


Study in feline dignity.

Carbon-copy of Egyptian sphinx.

Skittery, kittenish, tomboy cat

grown soft and lazy, winter-fat.

Ninja with the yellow eyes

tolerating childish sighs

with purred reply.

What if Ninja dies?

I’m asked, without preamble

between the T.V. children’s show

and the phone’s mad jangle.

What if Ninja dies?

Will she still remember me?

Will she get to heaven?

I am caught unawares—

yet parent-wise,

I realize

a small child’s fears.

Hey, are you kidding me?

I gently reply.

You know the Lord loves cats

as well as kids.

“All things good,” that’s what He said.

Oh boy!

Then He loves Ninja, too,

because she’s good.

Like me! he thinks to add,

and smiles an understanding sigh.

Ninja merely winks her yellow eye.

Illustrated by Ted Henninger