Sunday, March 12, 2006

Guinea Pig Heart of Darkness Makes You Disappear

Tony walked around the apartment reciting Aase Berg's poem, "In the Heart of the Guinea Pig Darkness" (trans. Johannes Göransson).

"Shimmy, 'the gorge is swarming with guinea pigs,'" Tony said Wednesday morning, as he dumped Science Diet Hairball Control pellets in my food dish. He made the dishwasher wheeze.

His heavy shoes walked into the living room. He placed a milk-bottle-cap ring underneath the carpet. A whiff of curd on his fingertips.

"'They crawl on each other like spiders,'" he said. I hid from Aase Berg between the sofa and the wall. My tail brushed the sudden pale-white radiator.

These past two weeks, he recited this terrifying poem to me -- "here in the gorge, here in the stack, here in the heart of the guinea-pig darkness."

Now he is gone.

He read the poem out loud every day, then Wednesday he just disappeared. Today is Sunday -- so where is he? The guinea pigs took him away with their magic words.

Aase Berg says guinea pigs "are born, they hatch, out of caves and holes."

No, Aase Berg! Guinea pigs' calves are tender, their bones make you thirsty. Their eyes are dumb as tin cans. They don't swarm -- because you hunt them. Their noses twitch. They fill the space with gloom then you eat them. Their surrender is orderly, and they sag in your mouth like jelly.

But Tony recited this poem over and over and now he's gone.

The poem made him disappear. It's cagey, it's a spell, a panic, an incantation. It insinuated itself into the apartment and then made him disappear.

Last week he sat on the sofa drinking coffee and said to me: "'Now I love you and now I fear you.' Come out from under the coffee table and 'roll out your guinea-pig body on the baking sheet.'"

It's the most terrifying poem in the world. He recited it over and over, then the witchy guinea-pig spell took hold -- and now he's gone. I'm more afraid of this poem than I am of rain, venetian blinds, trash bags, clapping hands, lemon rinds, rolling desk chairs, ringtones, anaesthesia, or Eugene Chadbourne.

Aase Berg, please bring Tony back. And stop scaring me with your poems.


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