Fine Tuning

At sixteen I declared I would study medicine. The following summer I visited Germany. Even with my poor German, I could tell my grandmother was proud.

While shopping with my cousins, I bought The Beatles’ “White Album.” I’d never heard it, but knew something of its mythic reputation.

I listened that night, alone, with headphones, during a thunderstorm. Though Ringo bade me good night, I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to know what those four guys knew, to make others feel like this.

I went to Germany wanting to be a heart specialist. I came back wanting to be John Lennon.

[2016]

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Dakota Cats

We have been hiding because it has been very noisy.

We know where all the good hiding places are. Nobody owns them; you run for the nearest spot when you need to.

Usually it is very calm; we can go where we like. The Man and the Woman are very nice to lie on. So is the Boy, now that he has stopped petting us too hard and pulling our tails.

There is a lot of music. And laughing. Sometimes the Man plays the piano. Mostly he sits on the big bed and plays guitar. We like the big bed too. The Woman is often down the hall talking to people while the Man is often on the floor, singing to the Boy and making him laugh. Other people come and go all the time. They play with us, too, and sometimes feed us.

We love the kitchen best. Not just because the food and water are there, but because it is warm and smells so good. It must have been fashioned from a late-afternoon sunbeam.

The Man likes surprises. Sometimes when I walk near him while he is reading, he moves his foot suddenly and I jump straight up in the air. He laughs. I don’t think it is all that funny. And I fall for it every time. The best surprise was the day the Man brought in the giant climbing tower. He acted like he had found the best thing in the world. (He had.)

There used to be more of us. One day the one they called “Alice” (they never learn our real names) got scared by a loud noise and jumped out an open window. She did not come back. It was the only time I ever saw the Man cry. Sure, the three of them could be sad from time to time. But we all know how to fix that. This was different.

Today we came out from hiding. There is sadness, worse than when Alice left. We tried to fix it, but this is different.

We have not seen the Man yet. He must be outside; we can hear him singing. People are singing with him. Maybe they found Alice.

[2015]

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