cover image BORIS


Cynthia Rylant, . . Harcourt, $16 (74pp) ISBN 978-0-15-205412-0

The narrator of Rylant's (Missing May ) fragmented poem addresses her beloved cat, Boris, adopted from a humane shelter, along with his sister. The frequently choppy free verse compiles anecdotes about Boris's experiences and personality, intermittently drawing parallels between the narrator's life and that of her pet. She observes that humans, like cats, enjoy the outdoors in summer as long as the weather is fair and, in a somewhat somber passage, laments that humans are born alone rather than in litters: "I have lived/ a good while, Boris,/ and I have never/ gotten used to/ being alone./ But you, Boris,/ you have always/ had your sister/ and this is why/ you don't go looking/ for new friends,/ as I do,/ or haunt the coffee shops,/ as I have,/ or worry that/ no one likes you." The owner's tone turns acerbic as she recounts an episode in which a neighbor complains that Boris came through the pet flap into her home, where he sprayed her couch and scratched her cat. After likening the woman to girls she knew in college who "were going to sure see to it/ that you didn't have/ too much fun, missy," the narrator at first apologizes and "then I came to my senses./ Accountant's wife: Screw you./ I know your kind./ I'm keeping my cat,/ so just plug up your hole./ And while you're at it,/ cover that/ stupid pet flap." These meditations may be too personal and introspective for most readers, even those with a special fondness for felines. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)