One of our cats is missing. He looks very much like his non-missing sister, so every time I see her I have to pick her up and make sure she's not him.
She isn't ever him, at least not by the time I reach her. She may fleetingly be her brother by some method of macro-scale quantum tunneling unknown to men or science, but this notion is too skittish and impossible to actualize between my fingers when I need it to.
Like the Siberian tiger he resembles, Pitter Kitten remains rare.
There Is No Spoon
I pull Hush Kitten out from under the dining room table. She is heavier than I remember, and her coat more like her brother's. "She's as heavy as Pitter now," I say.
"That is Pitter," says my wife. "Look again."
She's right. Slithering to be released, the lithe white cat stuffed into the crook of my arm is our missing adolescent male. The spot on his forehead I have mistaken for Hush's patch of peach fur is in fact a stain of dirt. I don't understand how it seemed to me that the markings on his side were Hush's pale stripes, for they are clear and dark now -- it is obviously Pitter.
"Pitter come home?" asks my daughter.
"Yes," I tell her, bubbling with glee. This seems too good to be true. "Pinch me," I laugh to my wife. "I want to make sure I'm not dreaming."
She pinches me and I yelp. She giggles and then pokes me in the ribs. "Is that real enough for you?" she wants to know. I drop the cat and defend myself against further tickling.
"Okay, okay," I concede. "I know I'm ridiculous. I just didn't want to be disappointed."
"Well, I don't know about you but I'm not dreaming," she says, rolling her eyes. She kneels down and lets Pitter nuzzle her knuckles.
As I watch a wave of dizziness passes over me. I look around for a place to sit down.
"Are you okay?" asks my wife.
"Am I drunk?" I ask her desperately.
"What?" she replies sharply, her face serious and concerned now. She turns me around and I sag into her, my sense of balance melting leeringly into the ground. "What's going on?"
I pinch the bridge of my nose and close my eyes, the stars fading. "I'm okay," I tell her, but when I move my head my vision slurs and oozes. I blink but cannot focus. "Maybe I'm sick. I'm very dizzy."
"How do you feel?"
"There's something wrong with my head." I looked up and grab her shoulders. "Maybe I've been poisoned. Are you sure we're not dreaming?"
"What kind of a question is that?"
"If I'm not dreaming then I'm sick," I say with dark certainty. My vision turns grey. I fold to the floor and can dimly appreciate the feeling of my wife's arms trying to support me. "Something is very, very wrong," I mumble.
"Papa!" screams my daughter.
The floor melts and I am released downward. It is soft when my head meets it, and I experience no pain. My wife is gone. I smell dog farts.
"Papa! Mama! I awake!" my daughter calls again.
It is seven o'clock in the morning. The bedroom is chilly and the sunrise sky is a wan shade of feeble blue. Persephone's tail thumps against the carpet, sensing my rising level of awareness. My wife rolls over beside me and the pattern of her breathing changes. Her belly is tall with child.
I feel really weird.
At first I am comforted not to be insane. A moment later I am disappointed that Pitter is still lost. Then I spend a few seconds considering how disorienting my dream had been. I have never in my life had a dream so able to withstand such scrutiny of my simulated consciousness before losing coherence. I have never had a dream that felt so real. When I felt my simulated mind starting to come apart, I had been terrified.
Right. I get out of bed and put on a robe and catch the risen girl-child as she drops out of the Tiny Loft like a jungle cat. "I jumpine on you!" she narrates. I carry her downstairs into the Great Room. "Papa okay?" she asks.
"I had a funny dream," I confess. "Can you get up on the couch so I can take off your pajamas, please?"
She does so. "You has a dream in you head, Papa?"
"You has a scary dream?"
"A sad dream."
"What's you dreamine about, Papa?"
"I dreamed that Pitter came home, and then I felt dizzy."
Her eyes widen. She takes dizziness very seriously ever since her episode last month with the spiking fever that brought on muscle spasms and a canting sense of balance, causing her to clutch my wife frantically while crying, "Hold me tight! I falline! Hold me tight!" After I pull a T-shirt over her head my daughter looks very concerned. "You has a dream Pitter come home and you sad?"
She touches my hand compassionately. "But it isn't real."
"No," I agree. "It isn't."
My comfort of what is real and what isn't is still blighted by the cheat of that dream. I could not tell the difference, when it counted.
Born Again Fish
All of the fish we put into my daughter's little fish pond in the yard died. We stood there with my brother and say their bodies float, those who had given up the ghost the day after the first to fall had been buried in the soft sand of the short shore. "What were you feeding them?" asked my brother.
Ten days later, they swim again. When the light shines right you can see their gold hides glimmer from the balcony. They park themselves under fallen autumn leaves. They gather by the spout where the spring drains into the pond, like tourists at Niagara Falls.
I am forced to wonder: who forgave their sins?
All The Birds That Might Have Been
It's autumn in Ontario and everything is russetastic. A hundred different kinds of bird migrate south, some of them in flocks and fleets and some of them in long, ropey rivers that twist and meander across the sky from one horizon to the next.
Our old schoolhouse is situated at the confluence of some such rivers, as many avian flotillas opts to follow the shoreline of Lake Simcoe and then the fluvial path that continues south from Cook's Bay.
I don't know what they're called. I am not a bird watcher.
But I am a flock watcher.
Last week a train of birds came through whose cars were composed of thousands of individual animals, each car separated from the next by about an hour's interval. The train proceeded in leap-frog fashion, by which I mean that one unit of birds would land in a black mass on every tree and pole and line in sight, sit around cracking jokes and grooming for half an hour, and then all jibber like mad when another car passed overtop of them. They would wait another half hour and then explode away en masse after the next car, which they would then pass overhead of a few kilometers further south.
I also saw a knot of little brown birds who travelled in such a tight and frenetic knot that it seemed that at its hard boundaries individual birds were popping into and out of existence, lending the roiling mass the impression that it described not many birds but all of the possible trajectories of just one -- that one energetic particle of birdness was flittering not just through space but through probability, its con trails of likelihood visible as the shadows of vanishing not-selves on the scintillating periphery.
The rivers -- the bird highways -- have the strangest motion of all. Threads of birds commingle and cross, join and disband, fracturing into diffuse blossoms to feed and gathering in a twittering common shadow to resume the ride. The actions of one knot of birds is influenced by the flight path of another knot ten kilometers away, the information rippling backward through the long parade in a visible whorl of reorientation. The birds have invented the telegraph, and it is them.
16 5 76 72 53 36 hike!
Posted by Cheeseburger Brown at 06:55