I Was A Squirrel In Cuba Once

Catherine Lacey

I was a squirrel in Cuba once. People looked at me as if to say, "What the fuck are you?" Squirrels do not belong in Cuba, I found out. I looked at myself and said, "What the fuck am I?" I sweated until my fur was limp and pasted to my body, until my tail looked like a friendship bracelet un-looped. Then people thought I was a rat and they were ok with me being there. "You're a rat," mean boys would say, kicking me into gutters.

I spent a month being a dog in Japan. Little gaggles of children who were half-a-foot shorter than they should have been would cluster around me like I was a moose carcass and they were flies. I would smile the way that dogs smile and stretch my neck out so that more of them could touch me.

I spent two weeks as a giraffe in Belgium. An American hippie who thought he was getting off the train in Amsterdam followed me around for a while stepping on my feet and trying to climb me. I thought about killing him. I thought about eating him, but I was a herbivore and I still had a stiff neck since no one was petting me anymore. The hippie got tired one day and fell asleep against a lamppost, and I went to a big green park and hid.

I was a seal in New Orleans. I sat on a street corner clapping my flippers and eating pennies. Sometimes people would drape big plastic beads around me and then more people would come drape plastic beads around me. Sometimes a bachelorette party would run up to me, shrieking, hair and glitter everywhere, and then one would lift her shirt and there would be more shrieking and sequins and then they would run away. I became very tired. I made noises I didn't know that I could make. I limped to the Mississippi river and with my belly full of pennies and my neck weighted by a tangle of green and purple, thick as an oak tree limb. I sank to the bottom.

Catherine Lacey writes, performs various odd jobs, blogs, attends grad school and interns for a few things to keep her mind off the disappearance of the North American Honey Bee. Her blog is CatherineLacey.com.