Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Donkeys and pigs and pigs, oh my

The note slipped under my studio door this morning was written in dirt, on old note paper ripped from a seed bag.

I recognized the writing. It was Wilber's, the Acrobatic Goat.

"Meet me at the Small Rodent and Bird Cemetery at dusk...alone" it said.

I had fallen for Wilbur's pranks in the past Halloweens–the year he leapt from the hay bales when I entered, inside an empty feedbag, writhing and chirping like a rat; the time he ran screaming towards me as I entered the barnyard holding a limp chicken; and my favorite, the year he strung his hind leg up with hay twine to look legless and at the same time he held an anatomically correct looking goat leg with canine teeth marks [miraculously crafted in paper maché from seed bags, twine and mud coloring].

So, I was onto him.

"Nope, not this year," I said out loud. "Nope, nope, nope."

Dusk arrived. The cemetery I was to meet him at is about 20 feet from the front of my studio. I heard some noises.

"I am so onto you this year," I said to myself.

I waited. Until dark.

And then I went to the barn as if I was simply late for barn chores. I walked right past the cemetery and saw nothing, felt nothing and heard only the goats in the barnyard. I hid behind the horse trailer some 20 feet away, so I could watch the cemetery. It was cold, and after about 15 minutes, I gave up my watch.

"They must have bored themselves and moved on," I thought.

I opened the barn gate. I heard the usual bleats, whinnies and snorts, anxiously awaiting my feeding hands.

I don't like doing barn chores in the dark, or even at dusk, because when I enter the old barn, I can't see as there is no electricity. But I need to go in there to feed the donkeys. It can be spooky on any night, for the night life is in and of itself, it is above me and below me. The hay loft creaked. Wisps of hay blew around me.


Swoosh, squeal, honk, squeal, scramble, SCREAM....leaving my heart pounding.

Feet scampering.

I ran to the goat barn so there would be light and there I saw Pino, standing, facing me. He had a hand painted mask that he held upright in front of his face, his ears showing. It was the face of my mother.  He approached me,

"I wanted you to think she flew in. Like a saint from the clouds. I told Wilber not to scare you in the cemetery," Pino said as he took the mask off.

Three short grunts. And off rushed Doris and Pearl...then Ernest approached me in a sheet. He said nothing.

"Ernest wanted to fly about like one of your mother's clouds. I told him he and the other pigs might be construed as ghosts and scare you, but he insisted on wanting to be a cloud."

I gathered Ernest up close, those big red lashes blinked - like only a pig's can do.

"You were a lovely cloud, Ernest, thank you," I said.

Pino and I walked back to the donkey barn. I asked him how he was able to draw my mother's likeness so well without a picture.

"Oh I see her all the time," he said.


Sharon Stanley said...

....and he does.

Lurena Sheary Williamson said...

A pure joy of a story! Loved it. Thank you

Else M Tennessen said...

This is simply BRILLIANT! loved it.

barbara@sparrowavenue said...

one of the most perfect endings I've ever read.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~