Adventures on My Sofa by Claudia Morrison

     While my partner is looking through his folder of clippings on religion, which he uses sometimes as material for his poems, a list of the Ninety-nine Names (or Attributes) of Allah slips out and lands on the floor.

      We are sitting on the sofa, he with his back to the sun. I am staring through the window at a silvery disk on its way to vanishing, surrounded by streaky, cream-colored clouds.  I pick up the list of Allah’s names and try to read it, but the sun’s after-image makes a spot in the center of each of them, a black circle with a silver halo around it that obscures the words.

      My partner has by now shifted to a book.  As I return the list to the file, I glimpse the headline of the yellowed newspaper article lying on top:  MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF CARLOS CASTENEDA, it says.  Curious, wondering how I could have forgotten Casteneda’s death, I take it out.  I am no longer seeing sunspots, but when I start to read, I suddenly feel something crawling around in the area of my left earlobe.  I reach a puzzled hand to my ear, where it encounters a small, hard-shelled bug. 

      A tick, I think in panic, though how or where I have come in contact with a tick in sub-zero January I can’t imagine.  Horrified, I pull it off, and without looking at it squeeze it to death, crushing it against the Casteneda article, on which it landed.  I grab a tissue from my pocket to mangle it still further and realize in the same instant that it isn’t a tick but a ladybug.  A ladybug in my living room, in January!  And I have killed it. 

      Now Casteneda’s death, or at least our  personal record of it, will be even more mysterious, with an orange-red stain of crushed ladybug in the center of its headline, embellishing the word Death

I remember with remorse three of the Names:  The Compassionate One, The Merciful One, The One Who Forgives.

Claudia Morrison retired a few years ago from John Abbott College.  She has authored two daughters, a novel, a short story collection, and a memoir.  Her Collected Poems was recently published by Broken Rules Press.

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