We both know that having a pet at our age is wise for they provide a companionship that can be difficult to find. I’ve had both dogs and cats, but the decision this time was reasonably simple, for dogs have an insatiable need to walk their people, weather is no impediment and my arthritis is no longer all that forgiving of damp and cold.
So we settled on a cat, and we have been pleased with our decision – she is joyous, playful and reads our emotional needs, but most importantly, other than not needing to walk us, she has been remarkably adept at training us to live in her new home.
Step right up, don’t hang back, come and watch the fool perform for you. You know me, bedecked in motley emotions worn like so many colorful rags, a suit of too many shades and hues, all displayed for your entertainment. See if you can find ten shades of anger as I prance around in front of you. Count the five flavors of tears that start and stop like a passing storm. Laugh at me as I pirouette, a dervish who loved blindly long after the love of my patron had died. See me in my fool’s cap, the bells of rage and guilt dangling from its points. If that isn’t enough to bring out a laugh, watch as I rip out my heart and lay it at your feet, still beating to the rhythm of the song to which she grew deaf so long ago. Rain your scorn on me as I stumble across the stage, for though they ring hollow, it is them that I most crave, a redemption that no monarch could hope to offer. Step right up, don’t hang back, come and watch the fool perform for you and do not pause to think that you could as easily be here, on this stage, and I out there marveling at you, wondering what you did to ever deserve such a fate.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008)
Cheever was having a bad day, that much was immediately obvious. Perhaps it was the two martini’s in town before lunch, but he says it only made him giddy. We all know better and by late afternoon his mood has soured completely, his emotions have slipped back into turmoil. He says a few cocktails will cure him, or at least make him bearable. He will soon consider AA again, drinking dry the liquor cabinet in the consideration. Elsewhere and in another time, Borges reminds us, an Irish poet, held prisoner in the last days of the Irish civil war, knows he will be executed in the morning, and so slips out of the house that serves as his prison, and into the water icy, frigid, now hating the Barrow river. He swims as best he can, promising that if the river god allows him to live he will present her with two swans. He does live, he does place two swans onto the river the following spring, and he dreams one day of visiting Coole.
He sits, suited in black, with 88 keys at his command, and we fall silent. He opens the lock of joy, the lock of sadness, the lock of elation, the lock of tears, the lock of laughter, the lock of darkness, the lock of light, the lock of surprise, the lock of compassion, the lock of love, and we peer through each door, unable to enter fairly unable to turn away. As we walk out, we know we have tasted Buddha’s promised truth and we go off in search 63,999 remaining Dharma doors.
It is like emotions are something you wear on your sleeve, he said, picking at threads of sadness, trying to pry them from the fabric of the moment, never understanding they were the warp of his existence, joy and laughter, compassion and empathy the weft. She said, that is only an illusion, and you know that illusions are not real. She held his hand, smoothed the fabric, tucking away the odd thread, hoping that he wouldn’t pull at the selvage and be forced to watch the happiness of their relationship unravel before her eyes.