Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Pern's head smells like fish when I kiss it, dribbles of wet food stuck there from our feedings. She's sick, really sick, and for a week (two weeks?) I've been force-feeding her with a syringe. She will not eat on her own.

We have a routine; I plunge the syringe into the wet food, food that stinks like fish and fermented bird and is the consistency of baby food, and I pull. Pockets of air jet in and I have to hold it upright, tap it with my finger, let the food settle and then push out the excess air. Plunge and try again, and again, until it's full.

I find her wherever she is and squat behind her, cooing to her and petting her head as I grip it in my palm. Come on now, good girl, yes, gooood girrrrl, I say as I prod her toothless mouth open with plastic. She jerks her head in protest. We're getting better at it, though, the feedings. She hacks and gums it down, miserably licking her chops. We're getting better at the routine, yes, but she's not getting better.

I'm guessing that anyone who doesn't care for an animal will not be interested in this. That she lies listless on my bed with eyes at half mast, curls against me not for affection but for comfort. On the one hand I'm numbly methodical about it all, following doctors' orders, stolidly confident they will eventually turn out to be useful because one morning she'll be bright-eyed and chirpy. On the other hand I'm so panicked I can't stand it. That sentence is lazy because I can't pry the lid off.

I thought I had more to say.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Did I ever tell you about the baptisms we used to host, the church congregation spreading blankets on our hill leading down to the murky pond, John the pastor standing waist deep and dunking the saved. My dad would man the grill, charcoal smoke and blistered meat swelling the air, a table with plastic cloth set up adjacent, topped with mustard, ketchup, buns. John would preach in the water, wearing a Hanes white tee-shirt, now green and brown with algae. He would hold the saved person’s head and dip them backwards, submerge them, hold them under and then haul them up sputtering. The congregation cheered and sang; we prayed. Once someone said they saw a scorpion in the grass.

I knew the way into the water was squelchy, the concrete bottom furred with algae and water plants. There were fish in there and snapping turtles, too.

My dad would give us turns on the tire swing, heaving us so high that we were parallel with the ground before he launched us, not swinging but sweeping through the air, so close to crashing into tree branches on the other side but pulled back by gravity, saved, at the last second. We would shriek and shriek, again.

I never wanted to be baptized in the pond, or by John, with all those people watching. But I loved those annual picnics at our house, Our House, in our water.