by Lizz Bogaard
Most mornings, I wake up to the sound of Sylvia. This is because she eats loudly. She eats loudly because she is an extraordinarily devoted chewer; she won’t let a single bite go down without making sure that every bit of food is broken down to a thin, watery pulp.
I take no issue with this; in fact, I admire her for it. She has a rare sort of gratitude for simply having food.
Plus, it’s given me a new sort of skill; I’ve become an expert in identifying That Which Is Being Chewed. I know it all by heart: celery is the loudest, the fastest, has the most steady rhythm; peppers are of a medium volume and speed, though with minute-or-so long pauses between each interval; spinach is a soft, slow, low hum; and oats are relatively silent peckings, always followed by one thick sniff, looking for more.
I know there are ancient Italian music words that would better describe all this, but I do not know those words; I just know the noises, so well that they often, if not always, make their way into my dreams. Celery has revealed itself as a giant green rendition of a playground slide from my pre-school days, on which a particularly irritating boy named Dillon digs his shoes too deep in an effort to prolong his ride and has the misfortune of forging a hole in the slide and falling to his death.
Peppers frequently appear alongside my enemies, in a dungeon, where prisoners must peel and eat them. Spinach once manifested in eight-year old me resentfully blowtorching the leaves off of the Annual Sunflower Growing Contest’s winning plant. And oats have shown up as flakes falling slowly from the sky, into the gaping mouth of a bull-like pelican I’m masterfully riding.
There are lots more, too. And whether my unconscious mind decides on recycling an old scene or conjuring up some new symbol, they’re all pretty easy to place.
But it’s not always easy. Sometimes, when Sylvia’s finished getting her sustenance, she’ll continue chewing for sport. She’ll get at a pair of sneakers, or a shirt, or the wooden legs of my desk, or my night table, dresser or door. None of these sounds are consistent; they are, admittedly, difficult to place.
But not my bedframe, never my bedframe, because my bedframe is made of metal. I like to say it’s made of steel. It’s strong. And it’s extraordinarily high above the ground, too, with legs like bridge beams, so the most Sylvia can really do is go at it with her nails, like clink-clink-clink, and I’ll say, “No, thank you,” when my brain tries to wake me up so that I can keep on with the dream where I fly back and forth over the Hudson, perch atop a bridge tower, see and feel the city as it sits before me, then dip back into the air and run one bright red acrylic nail up-down-all-around every bit of steel so the clink-clink-clinks fit into my story, all mine, mine mine mine.
Until my brain gets the best of me, and I’m forced back into the world where I see Sylvia, my little white rabbit, staring up at me with her beady blue eyes that say, “More, please.”
Copyright © 2020 by Lizz Bogaard