By Sandy Lee Carlson

Like our self-starting founder Ben Franklin–
Statesman, diplomat, thinker, believer
In books as the building blocks of a thinking
Nation of free people–
Our Fred the Cat
Shed the stark limits of her humble birth
For a lettered life at 269
Main Street South.
Like young Hermes arrived on
Olympus, ready to do big things, Fred
Filled a gap in the lives of old people,
Kids, other cats. Yes, Fred was a delight
To so many old and lonesome people
And children, offering homework assistance
And challenging her neighbors and the world
To talk openly about our values:
Do we stick with our own kind or open
Our hearts and minds to those who are different?
Serve the greater good or surrender
To an angry voice shooing Fred away
In a letter to Governor O’Neill
That the governor shooed back to our town?
This would be a local conversation
Among town letter writers young and old
Until the Gray Lady, like Athena
Put it on the wire and people read
About Fred from Maine to the Philippines
And wrote in with a single, humane voice:
I suggest a little cooperation among the species….
I am pleased that a member of the animal
Kingdom has received such wide attention
And approbation and has set such an
Excellent example for your younger patrons….
Thank God there are people to help lost and helpless animals….
A Las Vegas feline, lawyerlike, made
A case for the value of workplace cats.
Another took a philosophical
View in line with Hippocrates: Do no harm.
On the tenth year of Fred the Cat’s employ
At the library, Woodbury’s lawyers
Found there was no case for kicking cats out:
Fred had earned her tenure as the town’s feline,
Earned the right to call her library home.
Closing this lesson on civic engagement,
The selectmen voted their agreement.
The world again wrote to Fred, offering
This postscript:
Hats off to residents of Woodbury,
Connecticut, for allowing you to live
The rest of your natural life
In the only home you have ever had,
The Library….
Wanting to live in the library
Shows good taste, it sets a noble example
For us all. Would that more of us spent more time in the library!

By David Bibbey, Woodbury Poet Laureate, 2018 – 2021

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