The Dirty Animals

September 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

Last night, in the aftermath of emotional storms, I was getting ready for bed when Lola, Charles’ cat, tried to join us in the bedroom. Mouchette, perched on the dresser by the door, shooed her away with that full-bore, dry-ice hiss that always impresses me. I comforted Mouchette then went to talk to Lola, letting her know that she’s welcome in my home even if she can’t join us in bed. All that did was entice her back to the bedroom where Mouchette ramped up her hiss and growl, delivering it with a ferocity and at a volume I’ve never heard from her before.

We were all stunned with the menace emerging from that feathery little throat. Charles wanted to record it. Fitzroy wanted to go out in the hall.

The bedroom is her sanctuary; my bed her safe place to sleep upside down or on my back, while I work or while I sleep; to sit on my chest when I’m crying, her little owl face watching, demanding that I remember the world outside myself, the tumbling world with its fever-tide of beings. In Argentina, wild cats saved a one-year-old homeless boy from dying of exposure. They covered him with their bodies all night.

Mouchette keeps my antidepressants warm, nesting on the bag I keep them in as if they will someday hatch into tiny golden buddhas. No, she doesn’t think that. It just seems like a good idea to me.

My mother says, referring to my previous blog entry, that my life is not a ruin.
“I don’t think you understand how many people love you.”
“I do,” I said.
“No, I don’t think so.”

I don’t think she gets that the essence of depression is that I know but don’t care. And yet, of course I care. But the caring is way back in the closet, behind years of old coats and broken hangers, Christmas wrap, crutches and weights, my skinny clothes and my witch shoes. If I attempt to wade in, my cache of dirty books falls on my head.

Yes, there’s a book muttering inside me, with dirty bits. Sex and tears, ridiculous antics and even more ridiculous emotions. But! A book! I get to be the decider! I can remember kisses or I can flay people—feed them feet first to demons—have them pulled from bed by an iron hook that shoulders in through their bedroom window, then carries them over miles and flings them into the sea, the deep, cold sea with its toothy children.

A memoir of adult love—will I be swamped in erotic feeling, beaten all night?

I would like to be beaten all night. I understand why people desire to be murdered by their lovers. Agreed, this is an uncommon desire. And I wouldn’t really care for it…anyway, the man I’m thinking of, he likes to stay in his comfort zone; he’d botch it.


Putting up new curtains,
other windows intrude.
As though it is that first winter in Cambridge
when you and I had just moved in.
Now cold borscht alone in a bare kitchen.

What does it mean if I say this years later?

Listen, last night
I am on a crying jag
with my landlord, Mr. Tempesta.
I sneaked in two cats.
He screams, “No pets! No pets!”
I become my Aunt Virginia,
proud but weak in the head.
I remember Anna Magnani.
I throw a few books. I shout.
He wipes his eyes and opens his hands.
OK OK keep the dirty animals
but no nails in the walls.
We cry together.
I am so nervous, he says.

I want to dig you up and say, look,
it’s like the time, remember,
when I ran into our living room naked
to get rid of that fire inspector.

See what you miss by being dead?

Ruth Stone


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§ 2 Responses to The Dirty Animals

  • Nadree says:

    Wonderful entry–I can hear that book rumbling in your belly from all the way over here. But please, give him whips of fine silk cord and not leather–I couldn’t bear to see welts on your metaphors.

  • Andree Pages says:

    Lovely post. I can hear your book rumbling in your belly from over here. It’s keeping me awake. For god’s sake, let it out, let it out, I say. But for those beatings give him whips of fine pink silk, no braided leather; I couldn’t bear to see welts on your words.

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