Listen to “The Devil’s Sister”
To eat, or not to eat,
—that is the question—
whether ‘tis sounder for the stomach
to suffer the pricks and pangs
of outrageous hunger and resist,
—and by resisting, shrink this swollen shape—
or to indulge, and then sleep,
for after that indulgence, the sleep that’s
sure to follow spawns decrease of increase,
and makes of energy lethargy’s fool;
to eat, and sleep, and fatten as we dream!
Ay, there’s the rub; for in that fatness of form
what dangers may lie—the
hypertensive extinction, the diabetic
demise—must give us pause to consider
the view of a sugary grave;
yet what burro would not exchange
a future pleasure aloof,
for a present pleasure ahoof?
‘Tis a consumption devoutly to be wished,
when one of his stomach might its quietus make
with a baked pumpkin!
Thus do cravings make cowards of us all,
sugaring over the dieting hue of resolution
with sweet-scented cinnamon
and graham-cracker crust, and with this,
best intentions turn awry, losing,
in the act of consuming, the name of action.
Hey… there she is! What’s wrong? She’s limping… she must have injured her hoof! Oh no! Where was I?! Why wasn’t I there to help her?! I could have caught her when she fell! I wonder how she got hurt? Maybe she tripped on a crack in the sidewalk? Or stumbled when stepping off the curb? Or maybe she’s a gymnast? Yes, she’s a gymnast, a world-class gymnast… and she was hurt performing a dangerous dismount… but managed to stick the landing… and her team won the meet… and she took the gold! Yes, that’s it. I’m sure that’s it. Wow, that Lizzy is really something!
Where are the others? said Pablo. They’re inside, said Blurtso, sleeping off the pumpkin pie. Yes, said Pablo, not many animals have the constitution of a donkey. That’s for sure, said Blurtso. How’s life in Cambridge? said Pablo. Fine, said Blurtso, I saw an amazing jenny three weeks ago. Really? said Pablo, What’s her name? I don’t know, said Blurtso, I think it’s Lizzy. You think? said Pablo. Yes, said Blurtso, I’ve never spoken with her. Why not? said Pablo. Because I don’t know what to say, said Blurtso. Why can’t you say whatever comes to mind, said Pablo, and just be yourself? Because I want her to like me, said Blurtso, and she might not like me for myself. Why would you want to be with her, said Pablo, if she didn’t like you for yourself? Because she’s incredible, said Blurtso. That doesn’t make sense, said Pablo. No, said Blurtso, I suppose it doesn’t, but maybe I could convince her to like me. That would be the worst thing to do, said Pablo, because then you’d have to spend your life continuing to convince her, and you’d never be yourself. Perhaps, said Blurtso, but at least I’d be with her. Maybe not, said Pablo, she might eventually realize you’re a fake. Yes, said Blurtso, you may be right. So, said Pablo, what do you think you’ll do? I’m not sure, said Blurtso, I think I’ll do everything I can to convince her to like me. Yes, said Pablo, I thought so.
What are you doing with so many pumpkins? said Blurtso. We’re swapping them, said Pablo, for food and supplies… the cellar is already full. Is Harlan coming tonight? Yes, said Blurtso, he and Alexandra are taking the train. Good, said Pablo. I hope they like pumpkin pie.
What a lovely cabin, said Alex. Yes, said Harlan, it’s very sturdy. I’m glad you like it, said Pablo, Bonny and I are happy you could come. How long have you lived here? said Alex. Seven months, said Bonny. Do you miss the city? said Alex. Boston? said Bonny. No, not really. Concord has all we need. Like what? said Alex. Like paints and canvass, said Bonny. We produce everything else. What do you do for entertainment? said Alex. We sing, said Bonny, or read, or tell stories around the fire. That sounds great, said Harlan. Can we hear a story tonight? Of course, said Bonny, Pablo knows some really scary ones. Scary? said Harlan. Yes, said Bonny, but not too scary… Ditto gets nightmares.
Once upon a time, not long ago, there was a donkey, a giraffe, an elephant, and an insane woodsman.