They first called me The Cat,
with my leather and whip, men couldn’t resist
the click of my black heels against the concrete.                                                                               

Tell me where the jewels are, I’d hiss in their ears,                                                                     those men with their women who wait for diamonds half their lives.                                           I just take mine.

Catwoman, masked woman, thief woman, whip woman,                                                               slick woman, poor woman, trouble woman,
all me, not me,
I slide against the brick like a furry feline yet I shine
like newly pressed vinyl.
How could the man of the bats, of the night,
in his cold sterile cave
not look up
and notice me?

Who was I before?

They thought I was a flight attendant in a short skirt passing out coffee,
The exits are there, there, and there.

One day I was hit on the head 
and I changed…became something else,
                                 reverted to the quick mercurial beauty of the feline.
Or maybe I was a battered wife, 
an age old story of pain,
played out too many times each day
 again and again until people look away,
                         and ignore the bruises that shine so clearly in front of them
in the supermarket.

But before I break completely I break
into my then husband’s safe and it feels so good,
so free, so right,
that I want to break into all the safes,
into all the husbands,
until I have all the jewels,
until all the bruises fade
to smooth and clear.

Or maybe I dominate for money. Businessmen come to me,
there’s a girl who looks up to me,
we pretend we are not selling ourselves,
and yet we are.

Or maybe I was an orphan,
and I catch the owner of the orphanage embezzling funds,
I am young and small, and they throw me in a sack, like a wayward stray cat,
and yet I live and come back,
forever scratched,
forever skittish,
forever changed,
yet always landing,

on my feet.


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