Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What is the plural of menagerie?

More to the point, who will be the menagerist?

When no one volunteers, I do. I am still guarding the moon, just as I promised I would, keeping track of how and when it smears across our congested skies. In the night the animals would disappear into the fog if the weather would hold still. In the morning the deer emerge from the foliage and stare from the yard into the house where I wait.

In the evening the power goes out, which doesn't make sense (the evening is clear and still) until one of my poet friends says one word: "Squirrels." I trust him: they've ambushed him on the bike trail this fall. He knows how they are suicidal these dark days. I do, too: in the afternoon the squirrel leapt from tree to tree outside the window, finally pausing where the trees stopped. He was so avid. His haunches tensed, twitched; he gathered for the next jump. I remembered the dead squirrel I found on the street last year who had no marks of trauma on him, and how the narrative that grew for me as my eye reached up to the slender branches traced and woven above was that of the squirrel's last leap, his startled fall. (I don't know what happened to this afternoon's squirrel, though I am fairly sure I heard him land on the roof over my head.)

Two nights ago I slept so early that I woke before dawn and did not fall asleep again. A bird started running fifths, short scales, up, up, up, over and over again. Just one bird. And I remembered that I didn't tell you about the pigeons on the auditorium's roof last week, their massed darknesses lighting off into the flex and float of wider greyness, pulling shadows across the stony walls. And how I listened to the morning bird trilling, and how I laughed in my own breath when the roof exhaled the pigeons.

I will always be the menagerist.


Blogger Not From K'ville said...

Well, I'll venture to guess the plural of menagerie is menageries, and I'll offer a squirrel warning.

I once had the unpleasant experience of watching one squirrel (small dark brown variety) slay another squirrel (larger, lighter colored variety). Initially, I thought they were frisking on the lawn. Then I saw blood. I imagined I also saw triumph on the face of the squirrel still standing, and I decided not to stick around.

Surely, there are as many metaphorical possibilities as there are possible reasons for the killing. Perhaps one squirrel was rabid (but which one?). Perhaps it was a case of environmental poisoning (the lawn they fought their battle on was unnaturally green). Or maybe there was actual intent involved, and they were fighting over a stash of acorns, a favorite roost in some nearby tree, or a mate (it was, after all, early spring).

The moral of the story: beware the squirrels in your menagerie(s).

8:09 PM, November 09, 2006  

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