What I share won't come from after dark but rather the quiet before the light, warm morning kisses, and the cold grip of the day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Autumn's Tale

“I’ve drunk deep and seen the spider at the bottom of the cup.”  A chilling pronouncement made by King Leontes in Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, after, like Othello, he erroneously accuses his wife and Queen, Hermione, of infidelity.  This play is listed as one of his comedies.  (The tragedies and histories have light comic moments, so turn around here.)

I wake.  It’s 4:15 – 4:30 AM, and I am parched.  In the dark, I reach for the glass of water I put by the bed every night and take a sip, two.  I get up, quietly (my family refers to me as the “panther” I am so quiet.)  I leave my sleeping Darling to go into the office across the hall to write.  I crank up the computer and while it churns to life I bring the glass to my lips I have brought from the bedroom.  Floating, face down is a fury moth about the size of a nickel.  I have drunk deep of moth water.

I am not really a squeamish person.  I grew up on a farm, with livestock, attended a little one-room school with out-houses.  Little huts out back with a bench that has an oval cut out and everything plops down into a pit.  If you peer through the oval, and how can you not, you see all the floaty things you might expect.  I lived in NYC for 20 years starting in 1970.  Times Square was disgusting, then, subways were also kind of out-houses, and were the roaches, the rats.  I drove a taxi, worked in restaurants.  I dated a nurse; she told me things.  One summer, at that one-room school, my friend and I pried the heavy cement lid off the well with the hand pump where we got our drinking water.  At the bottom of the well is a soup of bloated carcasses of rabbits, beetles, mice, and snakes.  I have drunk deep and seen the snake at the bottom of the well, Leontes, you big baby.

There is the moth to consider.  And, just as I am writing, the table wiggles in vibration of hitting the keys and the water in the glass sloshes and he/she has started to flutter in the drink.  It’s doing the butterfly.  Mostly, it is quietly floating, acquiesced to fate.  Exhausted?  It may have been in there all night, attracted to my lamp as I read.  When I turned out the light, perhaps it became disoriented and fell in.  I could extract it…and then what?  Resuscitate?  Put it outside?  Squish it in a tissue?  We live in the country and regularly dispatch pesty things, like flies, certain spiders, millepedes, and moths that may eat our wool clothing.  But, it seems crueler to leave it in the glass to perish.  Shades of Abu Ghraib, Gauntanamo. 

When I make my tea I’ll toss it out the door, water and all.  My Darling will say, “Oh, for gawd’s sake, why didn’t you just kill the damn thing.  It’ a moth.”

I feel benevolent.  It has suffered enough in my Kingdom.  As Portia speaks in
The Merchant of Venice:

It started flailing again.  Maybe, in your soggy state, blessed moth, you will become a bird’s breakfast, fattening it up before migrating.

Anon, jas.

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