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Updated: May 22, 2021

Afshan Shafi

The following poem is after A Whisker Away, known in Japan as Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu (泣きたい私は猫をかぶる (lit. ‘Wanting to Cry, I Pretend to Be a Cat’). It is a 2020 Japanese animated film produced by Studio Colorido, Toho Animation and Twin Engine. Directed by Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama, the film was released on June 18, 2020, on Netflix in Japanese. An English-language version was officially released on June 28, 2020, due to production delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Synopsis: A peculiar girl transforms into a cat to catch her crushs attention. But before she realizes it, the line between human and animal starts to blur.


My previous bodies

Were not unlike a cat’s

floating trunk

(or its histrionic clavicle,

Its tongue barbed

like a sonnetist’s flap)

But for this boy

Who earned his

Pearly slip of a body

In classrooms where

Whispers turned to blades

Under a winter sky,

Discreetly rumpling to bone

‘I hate you,’ he said

When I was in my girl-body

My knees faintly shingled

Like a female Pierrot

‘I am no-body,’ he said

When I was in my cat-body

My eyes kind and plastic-

Sweet Japanese moons.

I drank from a bowl of milk

So pink and immaculate

It was like drinking

From a baptismal cistern.

I left the attitude of a changing body


‘I don't deserve any-body,’ he said

After the girl-bodies

Had drawn away to their casements.

His hands moldering

To ivory leather,

His ripe gums, flaming red and blue

Red and blue.

‘I don’t deserve cat-body,’ he said

As his tongue shrank to a

A tawny switch.

‘I don’t deserve cat-body,’ he said

As the hairs on his arms

Rose like airy spines,

Pouring out of his back

In one unceasing, blind wave.

All images are stills from A Whisker Away.


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