“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