September 6, 2007
The animals who surround us
know more about us than
we give them credit for.
On the porch on which
I do most of my work
these days, there is
a cricket. He had been
making music for many days,
cheerily, in the knowledge that,
try though I might, I couldn’t
see him. The exact location of the
sound seemed to elude me:
when I stood by the doorpost where
it seemed to be coming from, it
drifted, as though it might be coming
from outside, although it clearly wasn’t.
One night earlier this week, about
3 in the morning, I saw him.
I had gotten up from a slothful sleep,
lying on a couch with a blanket over me;
the sound from the back porch was particularly
clear. I turned on the light, and there he was:
a small black thing, about a centimeter long,
perched on the lintel of the closet door;
he seemed to have some insect morsel on which
he was feasting. It surprised me
how small he was, to be producing
so much sound. I stood there
looking at him from a distance,
not moving. He continued chirping a few
moments, then stopped, apparently aware
that he was being watched. I went
and used the bathroom; he remained
silent. Since then he has, as it were,
imbibed from me a neurosis:
when he hears my footsteps at the other end
of the house, he goes silent;
when I am quiet for awhile,
he sings again, sometimes frantically,
at all events more nervously
than he had done before.
I’m sorry to have darkened his horizons
in this way, but what else can I do?
I live here too,
and I have my own large creatures
to worry about.