- Ursula Werner
I'm Not Asking for Loaves and Fishes
I am patiently waiting for the alfalfa to sprout. I have waited many years – all my life, really – and the alfalfa has never sprouted. But I have faith. When you spend most of your life in a dark closet chewing on the soles of old soccer cleats so your teeth don’t get too long, faith is indispensable.
No doubt you have thoughts on my alfalfa crop failure. Perhaps you think I am not leaving my droppings in places where Lord Frith can feed them with His rays. Or perhaps you think my droppings insufficiently moist to allow the germination of alfalfa. Or perhaps you think my droppings cannot sprout alfalfa.
Ha! You infidel, you non-believer. (Though, actually, you might have a point about the moisture – the food they give me is very dry, nothing raw, nothing juicy. I am constantly lapping at the waterdrop-dispensing cloud that hovers against the side of the wire mesh where they leave the food. Perhaps I shall try to increase my water intake, exhausting as it is to keep my head twisted in the correct position beneath the cloud.)
Hear me now – if Lord Frith’s droppings can produce grass and clover and dandelion leaves in amounts copious enough to feed all the rabbits of the world, then the droppings of one humble but devout rabbit such as I can surely yield a sprig of alfalfa or two. At least, that is what my mother assured me and my siblings, during the many hours she read the gospel of Watership Down aloud to us. I remember my little sister Beatrice being skeptical.
“You mean food is going to grow out of our poop? Food that we can eat? Blech! That’s disgusting!” Beatrice snuffled.
“Beatrice, dear,” said my mother, “You are a very smart little bunny, but you don’t know everything there is to know about the world. I tell you, if you are all good little rabbits, miracles like these may come your way someday.”
“Well, no need for me to behave, then, because that for sure is not a miracle I want any part of.”
But I did believe my mother. I believed and I behaved, and now I am waiting. Because I would love some fresh alfalfa. Frankly, I would love anything fresh – a carrot, a bit of apple maybe – but alfalfa seems like a fairly simple, uncomplicated crop to expect from one’s feces.
Of course, it does not help that they are constantly removing the droppings with large brushes. Even worse is when they bring in the screaming monster with the extra-long snout. That thing eats everything, just sucks it right up through the nose. The screaming monster is so voracious and powerful, they have to hold onto it the entire time it is in my territory, grasping onto its proboscis as it shrieks and twists around, like a dancing serpent. Fortunately, it does not come into the closet where I hide behind the long curtains.
And that is not the only monster I must endure. There are yapping beasts, at least three of them, if I am correctly distinguishing their calls. Because of their howling, I thought for many years that they must be coyotes. But recently, one of my feeders left the wall open, and one of the yapping beasts came in. It was very large, much larger than the screaming monster, and uniformly brown. Had I not been petrified, I might have appreciated the silkiness of its fur. (I am a fanatic about fur maintenance. I give myself daily baths, even when the cloud has run dry and my little pink tongue is sticky with thirst. Cleanliness is next to godliness, you know.)
There I was, sitting on the soft knobby floor square, nibbling on a corn kernel, when the brown beast entered. And what do you think was the first thing it did? It went straight to a pile of my droppings and ate them! Honestly, the nerve of that creature. I became angry – those were some of my best-sown droppings, you see, and they had been gathering Frith’s rays for over two days – and I completely lost my temper. I propelled myself forward with my impressive and powerful hind feet, and I gnashed my incisors (newly-sharpened that morning, on a stiletto heel) through the air menacingly. I may also have squeaked loudly. The beast stood there, frozen in terror. I have no doubt he would soon have fled, but my feeder, hearing all the commotion, came and took him away.
The second monster has thankfully not made it into my territory so far. I have seen its terrible black face and its nasty white teeth, and I never want to meet that demon face to face. Sometimes at night, it scratches at the bottom of the wall opening, where there is a crack, and I can see its fuzz-encrusted claws extending towards me. Brrrr! The very thought of that thing makes me shiver with fear.
Most of the time, however, I am blissfully alone, free to pursue my agricultural experiments and to pray for my miracle. I have not yet exhausted all possible locations for poop dispersal. There is, for example, an annex to my territory that I have been avoiding, because the ground is very slippery and cold. But Lord Frith’s rays shine brightly there in the morning, and all of its surfaces are white and reflective. That might be just the place to try next.