Picture Perfect

Wonky Donkey by Margaret Whittle

Wonky Donkey by Margaret Whittle

You are nothing like what I had in mind. You are almost, dare I say it, hideous. I know I shouldn’t erase you, besides it’s too late, even though you are still moist. I feel sorry for you. You were made too hastily, with no thought for tomorrow, for your future happiness. Now I know what it is to be the crazed Frankenstein maddened by hubris, more intent on creating life than attention to details and the finished article.

Here you are then, with your frail, stick-like front legs, and the hind, oh-h-h grossly deformed. Poor thing, it’s a wonder you can walk at all. Your head is like a skull not that of a living breathing ass. Eyes, not deep amber pools of light I associate with your kind but empty, lifeless sockets. I like your ears. I can almost feel their shaggy velvetiness, their stiff form like semi-cones of cardboard. They are just short of beautiful.

Your middle is a worry, much too inflated as though you are blown up by malnutrition or staggers. Can donkeys get staggers? I remember my Granny’s donkey nearly dying from founding though I’m not sure it is the same condition. If you are suffering little donkey you don’t complain. I could learn from your patience. God knows I make an art form out of complaining.

On your back you carry the sun. It is strapped on none too carefully. That was my doing. Didn’t I learn about loading up from Stevenson? I must have dozed off. Actually it was impossible to slide into unconsciousness. I was splitting my sides with laughter. As you travel East-West you leave behind a strange cluster of horse-shoe shaped clouds though it is all a mystery.

So, it looks as though I might have to live with you, put up with your grotesqueness, hoping you might grow on me. If I was horribly honest I would toss you in my cupboard along with the rest, so your misbegotten shape won’t offend. We pull away from the grotesque. I said as much last Thursday while peering at an image of a dejected black dog.

You’ll have to forgive me donkey I have a critical, intolerant nature so to be fair I will take a closer look at you. Are you laughing at me, taking the Mickey out of me? I think so. You’re not burdened at all! The sun is not even touching you, as though the girth serves only to prevent its wafting away. ‘Your yoke is easy, your burden is light!’

I like your front hooves – delicate, neat, sensitive. You know where you’re going. You feel your way. Does it mean, little donkey, that really you are blind? That you see through second sight and sound? Is it me who is blind to a truth? Most likely! You are not blind to any truth because on your head is no halter. No one leads you. It is as though you don’t follow anyone either. Could it be you have lost your master and all you know is to keep going, determined to complete a task assigned to you? Have those vacant eyes been lost to a flood of tears, washed away by them? Is it your master trusts you to carry on without him knowing you, out of great love and humility, will faithfully work alone?

I have lost my guide too, you know. I could let a river flow only something tells me to gather up those watery feelings and let them spread out into a lake of calm, where I might sit and mediate like we used to, or row out to an island where wise beings live, or will live when I am ready. They might be a herd of wild donkeys. Was it my teacher’s blithe laugh just now or could it be a distant bray?

Margaret Whittle © 04/06/2014

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