Perched on a Sycamore branch,

they hiss away scrawny cats,

hungry squirrels, and raccoons

that approach our birds,

— the chickadees, titmice,

cardinals and finches —

who gorge on our feeder.

It is of no matter

when skunk stink fills the air,

sentinels of our birdfeeder crouch,

ready to pounce if mourning doves

gobble up remnants of seed on the ground.

They’re on guard duty like Yeomen Warders

at the Tower of London, and even hustle away

other curious varmints, including a preying mantis.

In our house, the cats are free to come and go.

Even though they roam around

all night they never leave a mangled mouse

or dead bird at our doorstep in the morning.

They are gentlemen who won’t soil

the landscape with their droppings,

always waiting until they return home

to use our self-cleaning litter box.

It is difficult to imagine anyone as loyal

and considerate as these cats.

Could they be a reincarnation of my 2 brothers?