This blog post is included in:
No Time to Spare
Thinking About What Matters
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Introduction by Karen Joy Fowler
December 5, 2017
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Annals of Pard: An Unfinished Education
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Last Thursday night, Pard woke me up about 3 a.m. by bringing his real, live mouse toy onto the bed so I could play with it too.
This was the third time he’s done it, always about 3 in the morning. For the third time (having had some practice) I flung both cat and mouse off the bed with a giant convulsion of bedclothes. Both cat and mouse went right on running briskly about the room, scrabble scrabble silence scutter scamper silence scrabble . . . . This time, I didn’t stick it out at all. I fled down the hall to another bedroom and shut the door.
In the morning Pard was walking up and down the hall all bright and innocent and wondering why I was in that bedroom?
No sign of mouse.
Last time, there never was any sign of what became of mouse. I assumed it escaped, that time, and this time.
But Friday night Pard woke me about 3 a.m. by rummaging persistently at the base of the standing lamp in my bedroom, making annoying noises, and worrying me that he’d knock the lamp over, even though the base is a big, heavy brass disk. No way to go back to sleep with that going on. I picked him up and shut him out of the room.
There’s no use trying to shut out both Pard and a mouse, because the door is so high off the floor that the mouse can run back in, leaving Pard out, and then Pard will rattle the door persistently and cry.
But this time, when I shut him out, Pard just went down the hall to sleep in the other bedroom. This told me, indirectly, something about the mouse.
Pard is an excellent hunter, but as I said in an earlier blog, he doesn’t know that he should kill the prey, nor, evidently, does he know how to. His instincts and skills are impeccably feline, but his education was incomplete.
Saturday morning, once I was up, dressed, and more or less competent, I lifted the heavy lamp base and looked under it. Sure enough, the poor little dead mouse was there. In its last refuge.
Injury, terror, exhaustion. All can be mortal.
I wrote a poem for the mouse. I am not sure it’s finished yet, I keep moving lines and changing bits of it; but here it is in its current form.
Words for the dead
Mouse my cat killed
grey scrap in a dustpan
carried to the trash
To your soul I say:
With none to hide from
run now, dance
inside the walls
of the great house
And to your body:
Inside the body
of the great earth
in unbounded being
21 July 2014