Once Upon a Time

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The Grasshopper and the Ant

Jean de La Fontaine

A grasshopper gay
	Sang the summer away,
And found herself poor
By the winter's first roar.
Of meat or of bread,
Not a morsel she had!
So a-begging she went,
To her neighbour the ant,
	For the loan of some wheat,
	Which would serve her to eat,
Till the season came round.
	“I will pay you,” she saith,
	“On an animal’s faith,
Double weight in the pound
Ere the harvest be bound.”
	The ant is a friend
	(And here she might mend)
	Little given to lend.
“How spent you the summer?”
	Quoth she, looking shame
	At the borrowing dame.
“Night and day to each comer
	I sang, if you please.”
	“You sang! I'm at ease;
For ’tis plain at a glance,
Now, ma’am, you must dance.”

Telemann: Suite for two violins, “Gulliver’s Travels”

The Bat and the Two Weasels

Jean de La Fontaine / Sagan Chen

Okay so, as I was reading through all of these La Fontaine fables,
I came across one called The Bat and the Two Weasels.
Instead of reading it to you I’m gonna summarize it
    and it’s just gonna be a little less fancy.

So, there’s this bat. They sneak into a weasel’s bed.
The weasel comes in the bedroom and is like
    “WHOA, how DARE you sneak into my bed, you mouse! I hate mice!
    You’re here to steal my cheese!”
And the bat’s like “uhhhhh beg pardon, I am NOT a mouse. I’m definitely a bird,
    LOOK at my wings!”
And the bat spreads their wings
and the weasel’s like “oh you have wings, only birds have wings,
    and mice do not, so my bad, sorry you can go.”

The next day the bat sneaks into a different weasel’s house.
But the weasel sees them, and immediately is like
    “WHOA I LOVE eating birds, today’s my lucky day!” and opens its mouth
and the bat’s like “whoa hey hey hey there’s been a big misunderstanding here,
    I am for sure not a bird, you should get your eyes checked!
    Birds always have FEATHERS, and I don’t!”
and the weasel is like “oh huh you’re right.
    All birds have feathers and therefore you’re not a bird.
    Okey dokey you can go!”

And here’s the thing. This story… is not pro-bat. The bat pretends to be whatever they need to get out of trouble. But, the whole time I was reading this fable, I related so hard to this bat. No one seemed to understand that they were a bat, an animal separate from a mouse or a bird. Because this bat had wings, they were assumed to be something else, and because they didn’t have feathers, they were assumed to be yet another thing.

There was no room in either of these weasels’ minds that there could be an animal that could have wings and no feathers, and not be a bird, and not be a mouse. And to be simplistic about it, that’s how I feel as a nonbinary person. People often confuse me for what I do or don’t have, or want me to fit into an arbitrary box based on how they think I’m supposed to look, or act.

And instead of that, I would much rather be recognized
    for my ability to sleep upside down.
That’s definitely the more interesting thing about me.
Or, I mean, bats.

Biber: Battalia
Froberger: Tombeau fait à Paris sur la mort de M. Blancheroche

two left feet

Sagan Chen

i’m a bad dancer, i think
but i’ve waltzed into some hearts and some traps and some very deep wells
and i’ve foxtrotted out of some hearts and some traps and

yeah, i’m still in that last deep well.
actually, do you mind – since you’re looking down here and see me waving
would you mind throwin me down a lifeline?

a psychic once told me that i’d be down here and look, that’s fine
but what she also said was
you’ll have to find a green silk scarf with moth eaten streaks
tie it around the stuffed dolphin your father brought you when he left on a business trip
    and came back having torched the remains of your mother’s faith
swirl that with the feeling of that specific carpeting that was inexplicably only in the pantry
    and try to remember how it absorbed the sound of slamming doors

and remember the one who put you in this well in the first place?
a chuckle from them if you can (i can, i can, i can)
the lipstick stained solo cup from the night that never ended
three drops of war between head and heart
and cover. let simmer. reduce, and cool.

i guess what she didn’t see is that
i let it simmer, sure, but couldn’t resist
taking a midnight bus just to drop off some soup at the front door
ten drops of war between heart and head
five times i said i love you and the one time i didn’t
the laughs i slid into my pocket instead

anyways thanks for the lifeline
for hearing me out and lighting this fire
on your way to something silkier
hey if you’re ever around here again
would you fancy a dance?

Couperin: Parnassus, or, The Apotheosis of Corelli, a grand trio sonata from Les goûts-réünis

The Story of the Moon

Richard Siken

Once, night, unchallenged, extended its dark grace across the sky. To the credit of the town, the stars at night had been enough, though sometimes the townspeople went about bumping their heads in sleep. Eventually, three brothers, traveling through a foreign town, found an evening that did not disappear behind the mountains, for a shining globe sat in an oak tree. The brothers stopped. That one is the moon, said a man from the foreign town. The brothers conferred. They could make certain use of it. The brothers stole the moon down and put it in their wagon. Seized it. Thieved its silver. Altogether greedy. The wagon shining bright. At home: the moon delivered. Then, celebration: dancing in red coats on the meadow. Number four brother smiling wide. The moon installed—its extended its silver calculations. Time and more time. The brothers aged, took sick, petitioned the town that each quarter of the moon, as it was their property, be portioned out to share their graves. Done, and the light of the moon diminished in fractions. They had extinguished it, part for part, and night, unimpeded, fell. Altogether lanternless. The people were silent. The dark rang loud. Underground: cold blazing. The dead woke, shivering in the light. Some went out to play and dance, others hastened to the taverns to drink, quarrel, and brawl. Noise and more noise. Noise up to heaven. Saint Peter took his red horse through the gates and came down. The moon, for the third time, taken. The dead bidden back into their graves. One wonders why a story like this exists.

Honstein: Barcarolle, from Night Scenes from the Ospedale
Vivaldi: Concerto in A minor

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