Termites make didgeridoos but they can't play them.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

House cats and the apocalypse

As one can never get too much of Pat Robertson....Actually I like this suggestion from Chris , except that an island off Alaska is something many of us dream about. For Pat I think a job bleaching brown stars in Rio would suit. Pat entertains while he terrifies. He rarely gets me to thinking, at least not since 1988 when there was at least a chance he would be elected president...and what sort of thinking is that except the apocalyptic kind. In honor of rapture-bound wingnuts everywhere I pulled the following from my desk drawer, stuffed away sometime in the late 1990s.

I went to the zoo to look for jaguars. It is not a bad zoo; it is a small zoo. They do the best they can with what they have. I wonder if zoos do for others what they do for me.

A zoo will always be vacation, even if I come straight from work. A zoo is a place cemented in childhood, even if it’s one I’ve never been. Somehow it is summer. I am ten or eight, or six years old. There will be deep fried burritos and pink popcorn sealed in cellophane and there will be plastic giraffes to buy and pinwheel rainbow hued suckers. There will be corn dogs and they will be good.

When I went to the zoo to look for jaguars I took my parents. They came to me across several states; we went to the zoo. There were corn dogs, not so good. I suppose I should have eaten only one, not waited so long for the onion rings. But I did get the corn dog. On my own personal judgment day, when ragnarok comes, this must count for something. A moonlighting St. Peter checking the blood-script on peanut skin parchment:

“Ah I see that you did have corn dogs. But did you see the prairie dogs? Did you have the deep fried burrito?”

“No, but we did have popcorn from a reproduction wagon. It had the clown and the wheel.”

“Wrong association. That was the Mall, outside the Natural History Museum.” St. Peter will blow through his beard in sympathy. “I am afraid this will cost you.”

“But we saw the giraffe and talked with the zebra…”

“Did you drink the red syrup frozen in a blue cup? The one with the bear?”

“No, I did not.”

“And did you eat the rainbow sucker?”

“I’ve got a bad tooth and besides, I never liked those anyway.”
St. Peter will draw black lines heavily upon my name.

“I did eat the corn dogs,” I have said, again and again and again.

“Yes, but have you learned to eat them with mustard? Was the batter so crisp it shattered like glass or was it hard and leathery, yielding with a snap?”

“Kind of soggy really. I neglected the mustard in favor of nostalgia.”

“But do you like mustard?”

“I love mustard. But it wouldn’t be the same then would it?”

“When is anything ever?” He will ask. “Look, finally, did your father bring his camera and take your picture against the hard blue sky?”

Oh my God, no camera, not that day. How could I answer to that omission?

“I guess you are screwed,” St. Peter will say. “If only for nostalgia’s sake.”

There were no jaguars at the Como Zoo, a five minute walk from my house. I have decided to find the nearest.

How do you do that?

If the jaguars are going to eat the sun, they had better start soon. There are not so many of them left, habitat disappearing acres into seconds. I wonder if they will pass the responsibility to house cats. The time will come, the coming of the sixth sun. Will millions of domestic short hairs, orange and calico, tabby and jet black, rise up to put the fifth sun to sleep?

“Butters,” I will ask the cat. “Butters why are you awake, breathing on me as the stars fall from the sky?”

“And the moon has turned red,” will say Butters, distractedly.

“And was it you who stole the covers last night? And you who shit on the bed? And what do you think is in the wall anyway?”

“I am very torn,” Butters will say.

“Yes, but you are speaking English and there are things I want to know.”

“I am supposed to consume you both, and this house, well--“ Butters pauses with a crinkle whisker frown. “I guess the whole world if I were the only one left able.”

Flick of the tail and sad worried eyes, staring staring at the familiar spot in the wall.

“Well, if you have to.” I will play a little with the covers, with Butter’s favorite blue wool blanket, enjoying the bewilderment of sleep. “I guess the jaguars got to you?”

“The responsibility is too basic to be sacred,” will say Butters. “Before the imagining of sacredness.”

“The sky has gone black Butters.”

“I never learned to use a can opener. You can’t imagine how much this frustrates me now.”

“I’m going back to sleep if you don’t mind, but I’m glad to know you’re my personal house cat of the apocalypse.”
Butters will sigh.

“Yes. Well, I have another problem. Not just the jaguars.”


“It’s you. I guess you realize you missed the rapture.”
I would shrug, sheepish not surprised.

“And I’m eating this fifth sun.”

I would nod politely.

“But, it’s your genes, your tangled songlines, your ridiculous prayers and dreaming.”

“Yes of course,” sympathy and nostalgia for cat eyes on turkey and barf on my pillow.

“Well then, somehow I am also supposed to breathe on you and conduct you to the forest where you will sleep through the destruction of the Earth. That’s why I am breathing on you. See?”


Butters breathing and staring, luminous crescent.



“Where is the forest?”

I have faith in you Butters, I will think. You will find a forest and I will bring a can opener.

“Won’t the jaguars be pissed?” I’ll ask.

“Oh them? No no. Extinct, all gone,” she will have said.

“Don’t worry sweetheart,” I will have said. “After we’re gone you’ll fill that niche. Five hundred years tops.”

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Not Pomegranate Jelly

Sat down to think about my grandmother’s pomegranate jelly—and believe me it was worth thinking about. Instead, unreasonably thinking about soap. I love soap; I have this thing. Not about germs, not about cleanliness, at least not directly. Passion I understand, for food or women or family or god for instance. But soap?

My fingers smell like garlic and I don’t mind. Washing dishes now and I don’t mind the garlic but am very disappointed by my dish soap. It’s orange. It’s neither sweet nor refreshing nor particularly clean-smelling nor bracing nor sexy nor powerful nor nothing. And yes I admit I ask too much of dish soap.

The hands, there’s something about the hands, thick and warm, heavy. The quiet the quiet and the stainless steel or porcelain or enamel. Steam and moment. Weight and water, naturally the water. The tingle-rush of blood and the white noise. What is it though, the feeling of satiety, the fullness? Why should puckered clean, stiff hands pressed against eyes, crushing stubble and twisting lips, feel so safe?

Could be toothpaste, ozone, chlorine and cool linens. Could be shower fog constricting hallways of crumbling plaster and falling sea tiles. Could be the mother’s hair rinse or the father’s sock drawer.

This thing with the soap then is, as everything seems to be, about the smell. Sandalwood and coconut, rosemary or peppermint, English lavender—good god with that plastic quart bottle of Yardley’s twenty—twenty! years removed and it’s still haunting me, the living and the sweet. Those little squares of French linden, nothing quite like linden even if she is dead now.

My mother once filled a shirt box with all variety of Body Shop’s “five for $12” and wrapped it for Christmas. A shirt box never smelled so good. Mary doesn’t mind that I cached satsuma in every drawer. She grieved with me when the Body Shop discontinued grapefruit. Her first forays into my then apartment are bound for both of us to those slim pink bars, that oily electric aroma. Clean and dilating, swollen with innocence, seeing through walls and wearing new skin. That was a hell of a nice soap.

Flossing with curly stamens

Wasps making love to time and all that. Figs seeds in teeth, flossing with curly stamens. A lot of time has gone by and starting fresh is easier than fixing my old template. Mad two years and it almost is two years since I started blogging. Months and months and pieces of years since I last posted anything. There's been a lot to do. Finally with the graduation, yet still with the never-ending room of remodeling. A ring was bought and damn beautiful too though I'd sworn more times than I've got teeth I never would never succumb to that particular societal pressure. Older and older and some things just must be done, I get that. Suddenly a degree and looking for work and wanting words for cages, trapping moments creating cool green spaces of brittle low wattage light. This then is the first post of 2006.