The Cat’s Dream

Federico Fiori Barocci, Annunciation
1592-96 Oil on canvas, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Perugia. Image: WGA

A cat sleeps on a cushion in the corner of a room while a fourteen year-old virgin receives her pregnancy results from a beautiful, transgender visitor, who presents Madonna lilies as a baby shower gift. The girl smiles sweetly, and lowers her eyes modestly. She is grateful but not surprised. She accepts the news in the composed manner of a young prima donna receiving the bouquet that her talent deserves.

The visitor has only just arrived, interrupting the girl reading a small, pocket-sized book, which she lays aside instantly, without closing the pages or rising to her feet. The girl reads a lot. She has few possessions apart from her expensively bound books. She reveres their contents, kneeling while she reads. Her room is sparsely furnished, functional; only the voluptuous folds of the dark red drape loosely knotted over the window relieve the cell-like austerity. She cares about the cat’s comfort as much as her own. She has hung her hat and shawl neatly on a hook. The polished stone tiled floor is clean.

Nothing else is normal, and yet the scene is familiar. The visitor, who kneels before the girl as if she is a queen, has wings, and is accompanied by two over-excited flying babies, clapping their hands and gurgling with joy on either side of a hovering dove. The window drape looks like a stage curtain, framing a view of a white turreted castle on a hill, guarding a city beyond, a landscape in fairyland.

Strangest of all, the ceiling has been removed from the room. The billowing curtain blends into clouds that separate to allow a gigantic elderly man with a long beard to peer down out of a hole in the sky. Golden light radiates behind him, crowded with faces of more chubby babies, made of the Sun, all pressing closer and closer to the girl in the room. He holds his hands palms down over the girl like a puppeteer pulling invisible strings.

The cat sleeps.

6 comments on “The Cat’s Dream

  1. […] seem to be the same couple as before, the male with the wings, long golden hair, soft feminine face and swirling red cloak, and the […]

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  2. I love how you’ve written this, as well as your observations. I think this is one of my fave posts on your site.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] or she has changed. She reads the same book, but she is not self-composed like the girl kneeling in a room in Urbino, over twenty years earlier. There is no view of the white castle, so she might be inside the […]

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  4. beetleypete says:

    Last Post becomes Scratch Post, and comments are once again open. The feline influence appears to be having an effect.
    As ever, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Aquileana says:

    Such a powerful painting, with a deep symbolism…. Sometimes we only have to see beyond, or maybe focus on the details to catch the “meaning”… The flowers seem to play a major role here, in a quite subtle way…. Excellent post!…. Thank you very much for sharing… Love & best wishes 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not to go all Casablanca on you but:
    “Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.”
    Thank you for opening the conversation with the ontological, and cats! You really do expand our thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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