Lon & Lino
Black Pirate from the Puy Richard,
My jet feathered Buccaneer, iridescent as a scarab,
My black acrobat, who mocks gravity,
My soft curved, favorite model,
My tender, loving friend,
My jealous companion,
She is dead.
May 22, 2009
I leave for Paris at 07.00, Laeti leaves at 08.00 for her course.
Lino has a good appetite. She eats egg yolk, cheese and ‘Junior’ dog food. She sits on the back of my chair, looking outside, through the glass door; or turns round, to face the living room & watch the dogs.
Or… she sleeps. She makes several trips to the kitchen for snacks. She lifts the lid to inspect the contents of the pan: no bacon in the mashed potatoes.
Towards the end of the afternoon, she feels a pressure in the chest; jumps down on the floor. An artery bursts in her lungs. She coughs once, projecting drops of blood. She falls on her side and in a feeble attempt to breathe, extends her limbs.
About two milliliters of blood flow from her mouth. No struggle, no more movement.
It is this posture, like on the verge of an elegant landing, that Laetitia finds her at 19:30.
I return from my Parisian mission at 22:30, hoping to give her medication on time.
I’m too late.
What cruel failure: having missed my chance to support her during that most frightening moment in her life when company is in dearest need.
I make the picture of this last pose she offers me. Frustrated, I can only read the clues she has left and reconstruct how she spent the day of her solitary death.
She knew to say to me, in her way:
how exalted she was, to meet me by chance and far away, 6 km from home;
how she rejoiced, that we formed together a strong team of grasshopper hunters;
how delighted she was, to show me where to find the entrance of the crickets tunnel and dig them out with my knife. Alone she was quite proficient, but she largely preferred the teamwork.
How she wanted, to pass time together: just sit on my knee.
How she loved to be cuddled, at the right moment.
She knew how to manipulate me, to make me discover her wishes and whimsical exigencies.
And more remarkable: Lino taught me to appreciate the pleasure of fulfilling them with feelings of tenderness!
This friendship with Lino wasn’t a simple exercise, more a complex drill of learning loving rituals and the rituals of love.
What derailment her death provokes!
In response to my devotion & diligence, she gives me her friendship. I have to share her with two others, crows.
It is the most amazing and privileged friendship of my life. We did not suffer a lot from the communication abyss between man and beast.
Laetitia had reason to be jealous, because between Lino and me existed emotions and comprehensions that were inaccessible to her.
Despite Lino’s period of absence for four months in 2005 and many other months of rather fleeting contact, this friendship would immediately resume, right after the comma where it was interrupted.
The ultimate recognition of trust implied in this special friendship, the most sincere compliment that Lino could give me, was to pass the last month of her life at our house. Her house, her home.
During this period, she shows her gratitude through indulgence and an accommodative mood never shown before.
We relive rituals of her childhood: In the morning,when I am descending the stairs, upon seeing me, she crouches, spreads and wavers her wings, pointing her nose and head upward.
–Young crows use this gesture to request food from their parents, and adults, to beg a favor from their partner —
Another childhood gesture that expresses her love and dependence: to search for and swallow my index finger to the hilt. She had not shown this to me for years.
Twice, she shows me she wants us to listen to music.
I put on Gurdijeff for piano and cello transcribed & interpreted by Strabopoulos and Lechner, her favorite music. She gives me the idea, that she cherishes these memories & savours the moments of snugness in being together.
Laetitia and I are inconsolable. The dogs are there, fortunately, to lick our tears.
Her two crow friends have understood: Sunday, May 17, 48 hours after the death of Lino, they flew around the house for three hours. They called constantly with plaintive cries. I respond each call, sad and grey, until my voice is broken.
Before leaving, they present me with a gift, to cheer me up: a short demonstration of aerial acrobatics with cries of craziness and excitement, loop-the-loops en spins. A last salute?
A short replay of their astonishing, head razing, 20 minutes, show from last April, that time in the company of Lino.
We adopted Lino as a baby, fallen from its nest, abandoned & menaced by a cat. For the seventh year of her life, she had already grown in her tail, four new, jet black, feathers, iridescent like a scarab’s belly.
The life expectancy of a crow is 70 years.