Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chickens of a Lesser God

Cosmos will be spades more adorable when he learns where to put the poop.  Blue's Christmas present isn't yet clear on the fact that the Norfolk Island Pine in the dining room is not a fancy outhouse. 

We visited several shelters to find Blue a kitten and when they didn't have one, the question was posed, "Why not a cat?"  And I was tempted, yes, especially by the Main Coon calico.  But the issue is that since holding our friend's baby, Blue has been wanting one of "our" own.  Begging. 
And I say, "Babies are a lot of work.  I'm not really up for another round of that and I'm happy with what I've got."  (Although some days I load the kids in the car and think, "That was too easy," so I momentarily look around for our "third" kid.) 
So then Blue says, "We could adopt!"
giggle giggle "Making the baby isn't the hard part."
"Can I have a kitten instead?"
Baby vs. Kitten:  Where would you tell your bookie to put your bet?  It's not a turtle, lizard, bird or marsupial.  We're already doing the "cat thing", living the cat lifestyle.  We know a good cat-sitter.  And maybe this will keep her from snooping in my room again and throwing out our birthcontrol method.  So no, dear shelter workers in all your guilt-tripping glory, we aren't getting a cat this time.  We're getting a kitten.  King Louis, world's most glorious cat: gorgeous, charming, gopher killer and fully eligible for well-deserved narcissism, came to us from a shelter eight years ago.  We love him.  But Blue wants a kitten.

Coyote offering comfort to the King
The shelter also had dogs.  I shocked us all by suggesting that out of curiosity and just for fun we walk down dog alley.  The psychic energy hit me hard.  The eyes, shaped just so.  The silent doggie pleas screaming in to my head: I NEED someone to love.  By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late.  I was hysterically bawling.
"We're getting a dog!"  I smeared the snot along my sleeve.  
"We came for a kitten.  We're not getting a dog."  Huck held his ground.
"But we talked about getting a dog once, a few years ago!"  WAAAAA WAAAAA.
"We came for a kitten.  They don't have kittens.  We are leaving.  Now."
"Kitten, dog, whatever! These animals are in pain.  And I can stop it.  I am the Jesus Christ of dogs!  I am their savior!"  Cry. Whine. Sulk.

We finally found a kitten at the pet store.  It was discounted and Blue couldn't figure out how it had been there for a whole month.  Because I am her mother, she's well aware of the history of black-cat lore and not impressed with superstition.  Norse goddess Freya, in a star-studded cloak, rode (rides?) in a chariot pulled by two black cats.  When the Christians came to convert the Norwegians, they turned all the evil goddess stuff in to bad luck.  Friday.  Freya's number 13.  And black cats.  Luckily, they left the stars out of their religious wars.  So it didn't occur to Blue that black cats should be left on the shelf.

Cosmos has amazing vertical leap.  You might be standing in the kitchen and suddenly there are claws in your back and you scream in a key not known to man.  Or maybe you are eating breakfast and Cosmos wants to jump on your lap but he doesn't want to hit his head on the table again, so suddenly you find a kitten with crampons climbing up your leg.  Maybe a baby would be less taxing.

The kitten wrote a little poem this morning while he was waiting for people to wake up:

Kitten of a Lesser God
There is an emptiness 
in my bowl and my belly
and someplace else.


My god sits and turns the pages so slowly.


She could fill my silver bowl
with gold stars and I would be so happy.


Am I not a good kitty?
Do I not train hard for the hunt?
Am I not soft and are my eyes not the greenest?
Do I not poop in my box most times?


My god says I am good.
My god loves me.
So why do I feel this hunger
so deeply, for so much.


What can be filled are my lungs.
What can be said is Meow.
And I will go to the parents of my god
and I will say
all night and
all night:
Feed me.

Something comes, something leaves.  My last Buff Orpington, Goldilocks, has joined the living dead.  She keeled over nearly two days ago.  My chicken's head went limp, her eyes are black x's, and she's been curled up in a pile of chicken shit for two days.  The smell could kill anyone.  So I kept moving her head, but she obstinately shoved it back in the pile.  Again and again.  But she's still breathing.  For TWO DAYS.  No food.  No water.  Huck even tried preparing her a grave, but the ground is too frozen.  "She'll be dead by morning."  "She'll be dead by the time Huck gets home from work and then he can bag her up and put her in the garbage can."  "She'll be dead by morning.  She has to be."  So this morning when she was still breathing, I knew enough was enough.  I have no idea how to kill a chicken.  I mean, I could do it lots of ways: suffocation, sledge hammer, lawn mower, saw, ax (if I could lift it).  But I didn't feel like it for some reason.  My neighbors butcher chickens all the time.  Maria was at work, but said Sergei could do it.  I boxed her up and delivered her like a neighborly Christmas gift.  I was expecting to learn how to kill a chicken.  To watch and see just what Sergei did. But Sergei was heading out the door and just shoved the box in his garage.  He barely speaks English, so I was wondering if we had a language-based misunderstanding, after all the whole point was to put the thing out of it rasping, shuddering misery.  "That a sick chicken."  He says.  "Are you going to kill it?"  I ask.  "Later.  I have to go now."  And Sergei leaves.  So instead of dying among it's familiar piles of chicken shit, Goldilocks is laboring through her last gasps in a strange garage down the street. Luckily chickens can't make their eyes go puppy-dog and there isn't much wracking of sympathy on this owner.  May the chicken valkries have mercy on me.  May they understand I tried to help, even if I wasn't particularly emotionally attached to the process.

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