Advice to Women

Keep cats
if you want to learn to cope with
the otherness of lovers.
Otherness is not always neglect -
Cats return to their litter trays
when they need to.
Don't cuss out of the window
at their enemies.
That stare of perpetual surprise
in those great green eyes
will teach you
to die alone.

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"Navigating Love and Independence in 'Advice to Women' by Eunice de Souza"

Eunice de Souza's poem, "Advice to Women," offers a unique perspective on love, independence, and the importance of self-awareness. In this succinct and thought-provoking piece, the poet imparts wisdom through the metaphor of keeping cats, suggesting that understanding the "otherness" of lovers requires a certain level of introspection and acceptance.

The poem begins with a direct piece of advice: "Keep cats if you want to learn to cope with the otherness of lovers." Here, de Souza introduces the concept of "otherness," emphasizing that understanding and accepting the differences in a relationship is crucial. The comparison to cats, known for their independent nature, sets the tone for a metaphorical exploration of love and solitude.

The poet challenges the notion that "otherness" is synonymous with neglect, stating, "Otherness is not always neglect." This nuanced observation encourages readers to recognize that differences in a relationship are not necessarily a sign of indifference but an inherent aspect of individuality. By associating otherness with the nature of cats, the poet suggests that lovers, like cats, may have moments of solitude and independence that should be respected and understood.

The practical image of cats returning to their litter trays when needed introduces a sense of self-sufficiency. This could be interpreted as a reminder for individuals in a relationship to take care of their personal needs while maintaining a sense of independence. The poet's use of a simple, everyday scenario makes the advice relatable and easy to understand for readers.

The cautionary tone emerges in the lines, "Don't cuss out of the window / at their enemies." Here, de Souza warns against engaging in conflicts with the external forces that challenge a relationship. Instead, the poet implies that maintaining a sense of dignity and composure in the face of adversity is more beneficial for the relationship's well-being.

The poet's description of the "stare of perpetual surprise" in the cats' "great green eyes" adds a layer of depth to the metaphor. This gaze becomes a symbol of the unpredictability and mystery inherent in relationships. The poet suggests that embracing this sense of surprise and wonder can teach individuals to be comfortable with the idea of being alone, fostering self-discovery and resilience.

In the concluding lines, de Souza delivers a poignant message: "That stare of perpetual surprise / in those great green eyes / will teach you / to die alone." Here, the poet emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and independence. The stare of surprise becomes a teacher, guiding individuals toward an understanding that one must be comfortable with themselves, even in solitude.

In conclusion, Eunice de Souza's "Advice to Women" provides readers with a fresh perspective on love, independence, and self-discovery. Through the metaphor of cats, the poet encourages individuals to embrace the otherness of lovers, acknowledging differences without viewing them as neglect. This insightful poem serves as a gentle reminder of the importance of self-awareness and resilience in the complex dance of relationships.

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