The Cats of Büyükada

Are imperious, imperial.

Are god, and also everything that god has designed.

Are in admiration of themselves.

Are one word, complete.

Bask. Sleep. Purr.

Are time, which stretches long, and yawns.

They slink in and out of drains, gaze disdainfully at warm thresholds, their tails a fading comma already going past the corner; they tightrope-walk narrow rooftops; a flash of eyes, and then nothing.

They must have pawed and purred slave workers throughout the length of the Byzantine empire, unhappily dislodged from sleep at the racecar roar of the Hippodrome; wended through Hürrem Sultan’s feet as she penned heated letters to Suleiman the Lawgiver; picked their way through the mosques of Constantinople, paying very little attention to Izmik tiles and arching mihrabs.

What a comedown now to have to yawn at tourists stumping up the hills of Büyükada; what a comedown to have to twitch their tails underneath bougainvillea heaped over slow-decaying wooden Victorian mansions.

But for cats, to be fair, everything already is a comedown.

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