Daikon Ashi

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Daikon Ashi

I have this dear friend who once shook a cat until it bled from the ear. I didn’t know that could happen.

It kept clawing at my leg, she said by way of explanation.

Well, that’s what cats do, I told her, though I’ve never had a cat.

Then I forgave her because I knew how rough she’d had it. Once, when we were fourteen or fifteen, I heard the phone go dead and assumed she’d dropped it. I later learned that her mom had snatched it away and smacked her with it. This was one of those old school, heavy black rotary phones that you see in 1940s movies, being dialed by celluloid fingers. I visited her recovery room, after the incident. One side of her face was black. She thought it was a boy, she wrote on a legal pad, because she couldn’t quite use her mouth.

When I told my friend that cats would be cats, she replied, very slowly: You’re right. I probably shouldn’t have pets. She shook some major memory out of her head. I won’t get another cat.

Now this dear friend has birthed a baby. He looks strong, with legs like stout white radishes: daikon ashi, they call them in Japan. Still, he’s a baby, wordless, unguarded, and I worry for him. He kept crying, I’m waiting for her to say over the phone.


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