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Table of contents
The pain so startled me that I impulsively reached up and threw it as hard as I could against the patio glass door upon which it made a surprisingly firm thump. I jumped up, overturning the bowl of popcorn, which clattered against the floor, scattering popcorn, and braced myself. Instead, it lay with its back to me on the ground, and I feared I had done it this time.
But then it came to, turned and stared at me with dark eyes. It got up and began to bash the glass door with its head, again and again, until a spiderweb of cracks and blood appeared. I reached for it and squeezed it with both my hands. It bit first one wrist and then the other, and I welcomed it, knowing it was the least I deserved. I threw it into the downstairs bathroom and slammed the door, holding the handle with both my hands, dripping blood from my wrists onto my slippers. I heard it crack the mirror; felt it pummel the door, whose bumpings and bucklings made my hands numb; the vibrations traveled up my arms and into my shoulders and head so that I seemed to feel its anger transferred from the door to inside myself, assaulting muscle fiber, synapse, bone.
When I heard a great stream of water, I figured it had pulled off the faucet or destroyed the pipes under the sink, and when it had calmed down I opened the door and saw the water streaming from behind the toilet and under the sink; saw it licking itself placidly in the deepening puddle. I turned off the water and told myself that now, really, I should get a plumber.
F inally, my sister and mother came for a visit. They live nearby and like to come over every couple months or so when they have the time. Since Pet had arrived, though, I had canceled. A cat? How delightful! A mammal. A small mammal that suddenly appeared on my doorstep. Can you imagine! How fabulous! I had canceled for too long, though, and they were coming.
One Year Later
I had done my best to clean up. I was still without water, though I had written down the names of several plumbers I had researched, the sheet of which was sitting by the telephone. I would probably call once they left, I would assure them. I just needed to pick up the phone. My urine was collecting in the upstairs toilet, though I did my best to use the toilets at work mornings and before coming home. I was only eating takeout, so the dirty dishes were minimal and stacked politely in the sink.
I lit a candle before their arrival. Lavender, which was meant to be calming. I opened the door and there they were, wide-mouthed and smiling. My older sister is tall and slim, a yoga teacher and organic gardener, married to a skinny man who is a masseur. They take many trips around the world and, if I remembered correctly, had just returned from Namibia.
She had on long flowing clothes and a necklace made out of wood and twine. Her skin, as usual, was flawless, poreless and firm. I, on the other hand, had been taking a washcloth and soap to work, washing up in the bathroom there. I had developed pimples across my chin and forehead, and my hair was too oily. I had taken to chewing gum instead of brushing my teeth and could suddenly feel all that plaque against my tongue, wondered if my breath smelled.
Yet I knew that if I could just figure out a routine with Pet that accommodated its surges in emotion, its needs, then everything would get back to normal again, including me. I felt tremendously, unusually joyful as I jogged into the living room and returned with Pet, sitting regally in the cradle of my arms, looking out with its big eyes.
My mother took it, held it up to her face and gushed nonsense words. Pet seemed to be delighted.
I hoped he would behave, just this once. It will be our little secret, I thought as I caught its eyes. Right, Pet? Had they noticed the scratches on the wall, the scars on my wrists and tops of my hands? Could they smell the urine from the upstairs toilet? Did they notice the water damage in the hallway, the water stains emerging from the cusp of the bathroom doorway? Would they notice anything? All the way up to my armpits, onto the humps of my shoulders, onto the edge of my collarbones, discretely shooting up my neck.
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It had always been in my best interest to not be. Yet I felt like this was something they should know, my sister and my mother, because no one else did. Whether I deserved Pet or not. Whether I was capable of being adored or not, and what was adoration? Whether this was as good as it gets, my life. Whether I was being good or not; whether I had met expectations or not.
Whether Pet was right for me or not, yet surely it was. That instead the question was meant to be the other way around. Pet was going completely crazy then, running around like a miniature whirlwind, pooping and peeing, puffs of its hair occasionally erupting from the action like water from a blowhole, stopping momentarily to devour more of the sofa and the edges of the ottoman and side tables.
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So I did what I did those days when he was in a tantrum and I was just too tired to deal. I threw him outside into my small fenced-in yard. I grabbed and squeezed him and lobbed him out, quickly sliding the glass door closed before he could race back inside. My mother, sister, and I stood shoulder to shoulder then, looking out the windows at the backyard, and for the first time I think I really saw it. Pet had eaten and dug dozens of tunnels and holes into the small grassy yard.
The ground was a heaving, boiling mess of dirt, roots, and overturned clumps of grass.
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When I had moved in several years ago, I had spent many weeks planting a beautiful variety of succulents along the grassless strip between lawn and fence. I had taken great pride and joy in those gorgeous plants; at the shapes of their thick leaves, their firm, soft buoyancy; how some were tipped with vicious-looking thorns; how others sent up to the sky from cradles of thorn-tipped leaves, unusual, long stems whose tips would erupt into astonishing flowers.
This rota is the oldest known musical composition featuring six-part polyphony Albright , It is sometimes called the Reading Rota because the earliest known copy of the composition, a manuscript written in mensural notation , was found at Reading Abbey ; it was probably not drafted there, however Millett The British Library now retains this manuscript Millett a.
A rota is a type of round , which in turn is a kind of part song. To perform the round, one singer begins the song, and a second starts singing the beginning again just as the first got to the point marked with the red cross in the first figure below. The length between the start and the cross corresponds to the modern notion of a bar , and the main verse comprises six phrases spread over twelve such bars. In addition, there are two lines marked "Pes", two bars each, that are meant to be sung together repeatedly underneath the main verse. These instructions are included in Latin in the manuscript itself:.
The celebration of summer in "Sumer is icumen in" is similar to that of spring in the French poetic genre known as the reverdie lit. Modern English Summer [a] has arrived, Loudly sing, cuckoo! The seed is growing And the meadow is blooming, And the wood is coming into leaf now, Sing, cuckoo! The ewe is bleating after her lamb, The cow is lowing after her calf; The bullock is prancing, The billy-goat farting [or, according to Platzer , "The stag cavorting"], Sing merrily, cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo, You sing well, cuckoo, Never stop now. Sing, cuckoo, now; sing, cuckoo; Sing, cuckoo; sing, cuckoo, now! Millett d. Some such as Millett d , in the version given above translate the former word as "buck-goat" and the latter as "passes wind" with reconstructed OE spelling feortan Ericson Without citing any supporting evidence, E.
Erickson derides "linguistic Galahads" Ericson and asserts:. Editorial prudishness has kept that fine little Middle English poem, the Cuckoo Song, out of many a school-book, all because the old poet was familiar with English barn-yards and meadows and in his poem recalled those sights and sounds. He knew that bullocks and bucks feel so good in the springtime that they can hardly contain themselves, and he set down what he saw and heard, leaving it to squeamish editors to distort one of his innocent folk-words into a meaning that he would not recognise.
One suspects that scholarly ingenuity has been overworked [ The older anthologists sometimes made ludicrous attempts to gloss 'buck uerteth' in a way tolerable to Victorian sensibilities.
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Most recent editors have recognized what every farm boy knows—that quadrupeds disport themselves in the spring precisely as the poet has said. To the fourteenth century, the idea was probably inoffensive Moore On the other hand, Platzer's detailed analysis of the line in question makes abundantly clear that "this traditional reading is not as secure as the number of editors that have championed it might imply". The Middle English Dictionary records a personal name Walterus Fartere from the calendar of the close rolls of , and another name Johannes le Fartere from the Leicestershire lay subsidy rolls of Every little bit helps Coming Together sell more books and raise more money for charity!
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