a visitor

by uzwi

A squirrel arrived on my balcony yesterday afternoon, carrying an unripe fig as big as its head, & tried to get in through the window. Each time it banged the fig against the glass, the glass produced a kind of soft booming noise. I found it hard not to laugh. I pointed at the squirrel & said, “It’s a window, you complete dickhead.” Instead of running away, the squirrel made eye contact & had another go at getting in. Boom. Some squirrel imperative was involved. Finally it got tired, took up a sphinxlike position on the balcony rail with its fig in its mouth, & stared out across its domain. Every so often a little shiver went along its body under the impeccable fur. Don’t tell me squirrels are vermin etc, because that will only increase my sense of solidarity with them. I’ve been quite shy with squirrels because I’d so like one to adopt me, or at least my balcony. Perhaps that’s been a mistake. Perhaps I should have been laughing at them all along. The fig tree is two or three gardens across, in the direction of the pond. Squirrels come to it from all over Barnes, then, unable to see round their fig, loop riskily about in the road in front of women in SUVs. These women–whose jeans & little leather jackets have a semiotic of expense that somehow collapses the distinction between the terms “casual” & “overdressed” –have things to do. Even as small girls they understood without needing to be told how important it is to be anthropoid.