I could see, by virtue of my second sight,
Marguerite truly needed diversion.
She'd never had children nor made a friend
Nor held down a job for more than a week,
And thus she stayed here, at home all day
With nothing much to do but sit and brood.
Books and crosswords were only a bother,
Drink too expensive, housework a bore.
Just one soul had ever broken through
Her lonely, self-imposed isolation.
At one point she had acquired a lapdog,
A thoroughbred Assyrian anklehound,
A variety of the miniature poodle,
That proved to be the perfect companion,
Patient and obediant, tolerant and kind,
Especially after Armand stepped on it.
The resulting massive spinal injuries
Turned the dog into a stuffed animal,
Soft and cuddly and limp, a basket case
Curled up in a little wicker basket,
A quite incontinent quadriplegic.
Of course, his wife never forgave Armand
And Armand had never understood why.
He'd classed her pet among those life-forms
That not even a saint tries to protect,
Those who stare on life through their beady eyes
And recognize nothing that isn't food,
Those that have nasty if non-fatal bites,
Non-sentient, low in moral fibre,
Like the despised spider or centipede,
Upon which one might acceptably step.
Armand's best guess and theory was this:
It's not by bite, not by inferior size
By which you distinguish breeds of this class
But rather by lack of stiffened backbone
Sheathed inside a warm and responsive skin.
True vermin lack an endoskeleton,
And thus, having stepped on that dog once,
Making it functionally invertebrate,
He then may safely do it once again,
Perhaps jumping from a table this time,
A commando's Japanese bronco kick,
For a most satisfactory coup de grace.
But this experiment was never performed
Due to absence of ideal conditions,
Until it was clearly unnecessary,
As that sharp, querulous yap lost command
And grew each day ever less strident,
Ever less pitched, ever more distant,
More infrequent, more intermittent,
Until it became clear to all concerned,
To all but Marguerite, the beast was dead.
His theory thus remained unverified.
And so it was that, until I arrived,
Her only friends were slick game show hosts
And the pathetic soap opera actors,
Neither intelligent nor interactive
And available only in black and white,
And available only infrequently,
Available only when the static storms,
Prevailing winds which blew signals away,
Would take a break, abate a moment,
And let some sense penetrate the gloom.
And it's just such times I will claim as mine,
For quiet times belong to God's prophets.
These are the times we give voice to visions
And warn all that the worst is yet to come.
Storms will subside and floodwater recede
Only so that devastation can rise
And wreckage gain its due recognition;
Otherwise the lash would never flag,
Never allow the time for open wounds
To close, fester and bear witness to pain,
Never allow the crippling fear to build
Against the next flagellation of gales.
But prophets can make use of such moments,
And not just to air grim points of view
Not just to list complaints on mess left
And damage done in prior bouts with God.
Respite can bring time to refortify,
To brace against the next savage attack,
And one can use gaps between onslaughts
If not overwhelmed by the numbing seas,
If not ready yet to admit defeat.
Liber Jonae Contents