April 25, 2010


The dogs lay on the bed beside me, as I turn off the lights, and put down the slim book I am reading, a small compact book filled with 104 short stories by the great Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard; each story begins with a memory and ends with misfortune or death, so these are the thoughts that fill my head as I close my eyes.
Imagine my surprise to awake to the sounds of whimpering, so I leap out of my bed, and shake off the remnants of last night’s dream where I was wandering through a high school, and my teacher gives me an assignment to write a short paragraph about one of the objects on a table, and I panic as I have already read all the books assembled, and besides, they are stacked so precariously that if I make the wrong decision, I will cause the rest to cascade to the floor, and so that is why in the end I pick up a stale raspberry poppy seed muffin, thinking what is there to say about a muffin and knowing full well that a muffin is not a book.

I follow the sounds of whimpering and scurrying feet upon the floor, then pause at the door for dramatic effect, opening the door with a flourish, and the dogs bound down the stairs just like this is the first time we have done this routine - every time like this is the first time. The whimpering signals the start of the dance, this natural pattern of hunting and circling the prey before the final kill. They split up at the base of the stairs, and one goes east and one goes west, and in the middle of the yard they meet, and attack each other, or sometimes, distracted by a scent in the air, they race to the base of the tree and look up in the hope of catching the ever elusive squirrel. I watch them for a short time, then turn back toward the kitchen, and upon the counter I see a stale raspberry poppy seed muffin.

I return to bed, picking up the Thomas Bernhard book where I had left off reading the night before. I regret to say that nobody dies in this story.

1 comment:

  1. lovely and poignant. the use of muffin as symbol is high effective and appropriate in so many ways... i see it representing your choices in life and the necessity (sustenance) of those choices.