Love and Defecation
Adrianne Dow Young
From All 23 Bunnies and How To Eat That
Every once in a while, I read a news story about someone putting something in the microwave that they should not. It’s generally something alive and vulnerable like a puppy or baby or kitten. They are stories that have made me afraid of microwaves and the people who use them. It’s a fathomless idea– nuking something that you are going to put in your mouth– much less so nuking something that moves under its own power.
But the kitten hasn’t pooped and I’m out of ideas.
The microwave whirs ominously. A bowl of goat’s milk pudding liquefies on the carousel. In my hands squirms the loudest, hungriest, hamster-sized creature on the planet. She is scratching at my cleavage, clawing toward my heart, hoping to suckle directly from my aorta.
She takes the pudding from a 3 ml syringe. Her blue eyes squint and her mouth latches onto the tube. I press the milk into her. It’s like forcing life into her mouth and down her throat.
We had found her – small and fluffy and mew-yelling – on the corner of our property where feral cats have set up a colony. Crows had perched above her and were calling out to one another. They needed a couple more birds to show up and then they’d fall upon her. They’d surround her, a churning black cloud. Each wobble toward escape would meet with a peck. They’d go for her eyes first. Once she was blind, they’d hit the back of her neck until she was paralyzed. Once she couldn’t move, they’d eat her alive through her soft little belly.
The kitten screamed when I put her to my chest. I looked at the crows. They fell silent and waited.
She was going to die.
100% of the people who eat pickles die.
Earlier in the summer a nestling died in my hands. It turned its little head up toward me, looked at me bright and clear and then dropped motionless into my palm. It wasn’t a moment that boosted my confidence.
The microwave is incredibly efficient in warming up small amounts of goat’s milk pudding. Defrosting things –taking solid matter to a soft state – is much more difficult and I see suddenly why people put live things in the microwave. Microwaving live things makes a useless appliance an effective one.
I hold the kitten tight against my chest as I push the button that throws open the microwave door. She squeals. I pray that some demon doesn’t rush into the kitchen, pull her from my arms, put her into the lighted cavern, press “DEFROST” and “5” and “START” and turn her into goo.
You wouldn’t think this a possibility, but I didn’t think someone could look so brilliantly alive and die in the next second. It happens. One breath, they’re looking at you and in the next their blue eyes flutter grey and the light recedes from their body. Their right hand goes cold as it grips yours. It is in the warmest of moments you remember the cold sight of horror.
The kitten suckles madly and I review everything I’ve read about feeding it. Feed it belly down; feed it goat’s milk not cow’s milk; give it warm food not cold; if bubbles come out of its nose you are drowning it.
Most important: the kitten must poop. If it is over-fed, it might not poop. If it has cold milk, it might not poop. If it has cow’s milk it might not poop. If you don’t rub its genitals after feeding it, it might not poop. If you fucked up in grade-school, it might not poop.
The kitten’s stomach is as tight as a tick. I stroke its abdomen and it mew-screams. It’s hungry and full at the same time. It’s dying. I’m sure of it.
If only the microwave could help somehow. I turn away from the window and concentrate on holding the cat close. I’m not going to kill the kitten. I am not going to feel guilty when it dies. I will not go on a five-year bender if bubbles gurgle out of its nose.
More goat’s milk pudding and more belly stroking. It stretches with paws straight out and sucks like Super Hoover. Its flat little ears twitch in time with its suckling. The syringe disappears down her throat. She’s the shape of an eggplant. When I pull the empty syringe away, paws viciously box the vacant space between us.
More goat’s milk pudding. More rubbing, More urine. Bigger tummy. The kitten is so round that it looks like a billiard ball with a little cat’s head glued onto it.
She and I sit in the backyard in the sunlight. The peace of the day makes me suspicious. I roll her over onto her back and rub her abdomen in little circles. She mews lightly and looks up at me with a cocked head. Her eyes are bright and then they close. It’s a serene moment; a final poo-less moment.
The kitten is like a tube of toothpaste being squeezed. She looks at me amused and purring. Poo coils out of her. I clean her with baby wipes. She squirms in my lap. A clawless paw wraps around my pointer finger. It’s warm and alive.