Cats And Dogs

Competing predators since antiquity,
lions killing hyenas on the plains of Serengeti,
enemies then and enemies now,
so that mutual disdain became instinctive.
Domestication brought role reversal,
with dogs now the brutes, cats the smaller, tamer.
Mere presence of the other provokes disharmony.
Fighting like cats and dogs…the natural order
of things, with millions of years to be avenged.

And yet…the morning newspaper had a picture
of a dog and a cat lying together, both sleeping
in contented harmony. Together from kitten and pup,
they have become playful, peaceful, lifelong friends,
even sharing water bowls and sleeping entwined.
Amazing how knowing one another as individuals
can overcome the innate distrust and hatred inbred
by Nature or created by their culture and history.
This offers me hope for Mankind – white and black,
Arab and Jew, Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant –
for surely Mankind, if only he were to become
better acquainted with his enemies as individuals,
could learn to stop fighting like cats and dogs.

Harry Edward Gilleland      07.18.04