Zoe is staying with us for ten or twelve days. Who can ever know? I could have as easily said "sixteen or thirty-nine." People and numbers mix oddly. Around some people numbers will coil like an exoskeleton: number of votes tallied, dollars acquired, miles per gallon, ripe girls boffed, lives saved, heartbeats in a life. These are people who wear their numbers like badges. They probably have certificates, licenses or diplomas in studies that analyze our lives in a cold quantitative manner. They count, both in their own eyes and others, both figuratively and literally, and they may mumble fractions in their sleep and have prime dreams.
Zoe's life with numbers is an oil and water affair. Numbers hit her head on. Some she volleys back as if actual information was being sent your way, but the rest slide off in disarray and pool at her feet, a sticky mess, an actuarial nightmare. Zoe cannot be numerately defined. Zoe is flux, and there is no number for that. When Zoe affirms some number we all nod sagely and poke each other in the ribs. "We'll see you when we see you" we say, and "let us know where you fetch up." Clocks and calendars are mystical artifacts of a prior civilization. She refers to guide books attempting to catch up with the world.
And the wind came up. The power lines went down. The veneer peels at the edges at such moments, and while those events are sequential no blame lies attached to any party, named or unamed. It has just panned out this way. A collapsing grid falling on the unwary, as if a giant spider had spun web-chains from the fiber of pre-Edison-days and cast them over a town. We were captivated. The arachnid of night groping us, making us whine. Sissies in vinyl-sided boxes. Sometimes things fall out like that, and it leaves us in the dark, literally. I like the night, but I like it electric, tingly and buzzy on its noir edges, ripe with mysterious promise.
<<A footfall in a foggy alley off to your left. You turn and stare at nothing; squint hard into the shadows. Streetlamps plop their round gifts into puddles of rain on the sidewalks, reflected moons. You gauge the distance pool to pool of light, and the density of the dark between, and how many of these interstices you must cross to come to your own door. The sound of the streetcar vanishes down the block. You jingle your keys in your pocket and think. The thing you smell in the night is promise.>>
We each have a flashlight now. Life is supposedly good to those who pre-plan. I nurse my sleek black torch cautiously, trusting my very own batteries will outlast every one else's, Antish-Don, a steward of the light. Grasshoppers dance in their all-too-brief beams. The needy will plead for me to help them find the bathroom, blindly stumbling from toe-stubber to shin-cracker, cursing the stilled electrons which do not move. (Now not even their holes move - teachers told me that was how it worked, but I never quite got the hang of it. Maybe I have now. It is theory perfected; the electrons and their holes are both stilled.) I wait silently for that moment of swelling need - in the very quiet dark. The cry of the bloated bladder.
Pat is around here somewhere. When luminesence passes me muttering "this fucking wilderness" I know I am at home, in Maine, and I don't look too closely to see who just went by. Two days into the event someone has discovered another electrical cord on the floor. Things like this, and the odd organic outrage, are discovered mainly by being stepped on. Being barefoot can be disheartening; there is no running water. It seems that in the long dark nights Rose has taken to eating the power cords off appliances. No one seems to mind as much as you might think. Afterall, what is electricity in a fucking wilderness? Small feet pad by without a pause; some of us can see in the dark. Isn't that wonderful? Blest by the gods...
Rose was spayed 3 or 4 days ago; time seems a vague construct, and I am not sure of its exact passage, but no one actively kicks at the small noises underfoot for fear of dehisence, puppy bowels quivering on the floor like nocturnal worms. "NO!" isn't shrieked very often now. The word does nothing to alleviate the dark and a puppy really is just raw will gnawing at civlization's edge without surcease. Rust never sleeps. Rose is his companion.
Power back just before dark, and we celebrate by turning everything in the house on. Still don't know what the maimed electrical cords go to.... Perhaps discovery will simply blossom in our lives. They may have slipped in from another dimension when we weren't looking; one of those time-warp things you hear about. Maybe there were extra puppies, too. That would explain a lot.
Rose is once more being escorted outside to "Do It!", less an appeal now than it formerly was. Careful attention is paid to her indoor activites. She did eat 5 yogurt cartons of tomato seedlings I was hoping to nurse thru the winter. We will steam clean the carpet soon. All those shredded rolls of toilet paper need picking up first. It occurs to me that Rose probably never even knew the power was out. Every dog has it's night. Neither the chickens nor the ducks were heard to complain. The cat was not discommoded. People are so fucking fragile, I think, and I am one of them.
(I would point out here, so you will not make the same mistake I did: there are two Zoes out there in the world of numbers. It was the everyday Zoe I spoke of above. There is also the Zoe who knows schedules, arrivals and departures, time on the ground, phone numbers to call, ticket prices and the cost of a pint at Shannon Airport. Put her in work-mode and she is an efficient tallier of all the facts and figures relating to flying thither and yon. Get her to the airport late for check-in and face her wrath. Sometimes we forget that others can be quite as complex as we think ourselves.)
The ducks fly now. Not quite as stirring as swans, but somewhat so when you see your fluffballs of a few months ago soaring away to live with the neighbors. Of the six remaining one drake has succumbed to a speeding pickup truck. One drake has lost all rights to the remaining three ducks and wanders alone and forlorn; he sleeps on the front lawn right next to the blacktop - I fear a duckish death wish. And now the alpha drake has misplaced one of his three ducks. We hope she has laid a clutch and is sitting it in solitude and will come marching out with twenty new fluffies in another month. I fear the truth is less sublime. They live mostly at Ellie's, across the road. She has bird feeders that emit the dropped seed, standing water in ditches, lots of lawn, and now, it seems, the water on top of the pool cover has become a pond. Ellie is not one to complain and will, unfortunately, fail to mention things that need rectifying, but she has said she hopes the ducks won't want to live in the swimming pool come summer. I will clip the wings on any future Muscovys and try to keep them home. The may go feral and infect the entire neighborhood, though I do wonder what they will do once the snow flies. I hope they come home for shelter and food.
I am down two Brahma hens. The coop was left open at night for several weeks and all went well. Then, one morning, there is a dead hen with her throat torn out; a sure sign of racoons. The next night I went out to lock up a bit after dark and found a pair of them in the coop. They had killed one hen and the others were up on their roosts. I beat both the coons soundly with a board. I didn't really want to kill them, but I surely did want to dissuade them from returning. I left the dead hen on the compost pile and they came and took her the next night. If I did nothing else I certainly bruised some ribs and skulls, but I didn't stop them from visiting. The coop is locked up every night, again, and no more birds have been taken.
LBJ, the Brahma rooster, has taken up playing with Rose. I have been working with her not to chase the chickens. She forgot her prior lessons while were driving about buying new transmissions. All my teaching goes for naught. LBJ goads her. It is quite funny to see the two of them chasing each other about the yard. Rose goes into play posture about a foot from LBJ, and he goes into attack mode. Now and then he catches up with her and gives her a good pecking. We are thinking that LBJ may be ready for the dog park.
should have posted this weeks ago. lazy me. don e and all others