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Thursday, May 1, 2014


jenny and jack

This was the first picture I got this morning when I spotted the donkeys wrestling one another donkey style. I picked up the camera and slipped out the door soundlessly as possible, crept behind a big white pine trunk, adjusted the zoom to where I wanted it, in a hurry because action like this doesn't last very long. Found them, zoomed in, held camera steady with the tree. Focusing on them ready to click, they jumped up in their neck wrestling game. They were not thinking it a game. They weren't even thinking. They were on automatic pilot, navigated by instinct as specific to donkey as making a paper nest is to a wasp. This is the Garden, mind before awareness of duality. Seconds before this scene, while I was fumbling with the camera, Jack jumped onto Jenny's back and she slipped out from under him and planted two hoofs in his chest with an audible slap. Jack can take it like Mike Tyson, like a tree. Jack is so firm on his feet, and his torso so ready when Jenny connects with a power kick to the chest, he doesn't show he felt a thing or even noticed. He just turns his head aside to avoid a kick in the jaw. I saw her nail him once on the chin. He saw stars for half a second. Jenny kicked him a good one, he waited til she was done kicking and tried to hop on her back. She ran and he tore out after her. I clicked the camera not composing anything, just trying to keep them in the viewfinder. Click. Click. Click. I had no idea what they'd do the next split second, it could be anything. I got what they did. Mostly Jack took hold of Jenny's neck and walked her in a circle. I marvel at the strength in Jack's jaws to hold a donkey powerful as Jenny is, and bigger than him, hold her by the back of her neck and control her. She must have callouses there by now. Often I see the wet places on her neck where Jack's teeth clamped down.
jack takes charge of jenny
It must not hurt much in the place Jack locks his vice grip jaws on the back of Jenny's neck. She never squeals or gets back at him for it. She only wants free of it. When she's free, she's gone. She doesn't run far. He catches up to her and they neck wrestle. I've come to see their neck wrestling a kind of martial arts sparring, trying to bite each other's neck and defending self from a bite. It looks like a martial arts sparring match and it looks like a spontaneous dance. First seeing them together I felt for Jenny the way Jack took charge of her, broke her down, when he'd had enough of getting donkey kicked all over his head and body. I wondered if he was doing like in the Xtreme fighting, letting the opponent wear himself out, then turning on the action. In passing weeks and months I've seen that Jenny is as complicit in the play as Jack. She is playing her part just like he is playing his. It's turning into a dance for me. How else can they dance but to make their own music? Their music may be the ritual of a kicking fest first part, possibly charging up the bull in Jack. Him taking hold of her neck and walking her in a circle may be the music too. Maybe I can look at the neck wrestling as the dance. The whole experience is the dance and the music. Like who can tell the dancer from the dance, the donkeys do who can tell the dancer from the music? Maybe it's donkey courtship behavior for Jenny to play hard to get, like it turns on the bull in Jack. If she's too easy he'll think she's a whore and then he won't respect her. Maybe it turns on the equine man to conquer his woman, and turns on the equine woman to be taken by her man. Something like the Italian lover in Streetcar Named Desire and his Southern girl. I hurt you because I love you, baby. O it hurts so good, honey, bite me again. It's getting more like a hyper-active John Waters movie.  
jack bites jenny

jenny plays hard to get but not too hard
They're not only a National Geographic documentary out the window of the African Wild Ass in real life, they're interactive television. I can step into the tv and feed them carrots and take pictures, take hay to them, go back inside and watch them on my flatscreen (window) that's always on the donkey meadow channel, daytime only. Sometimes I like to go to the Mt St Helens cam that updates the image every five minutes or so, to see the mountain in different sky and weather every time. I have a glass ball paperweight made with dust from Mt St Helens in the glass. It's beautiful. Odd for me to buy something like that and paid $35 for it on a whim. It was a strong whim. It felt like an historical moment frozen in a drop of glass. I like seeing it. I think of that old boy Harry Truman who decided to stay at home and let the mountain consume him. I liked his spirit. He was old. What's he going to do someplace else? Watch the auction channels on nursing home tv? The mountain is going to blow up he'd lived with all his life, go with the mountain. I have a live surveillance camera on the donkeys, the lowest tech of all, panes of glass. Friends tell me to get videos of them, but it's not that easy. Catching this dance today was by surprise. I knew they'd stop the second the first one saw me, and it would be over. Next I'll be taking pictures of their noses at the gate. I did my best to avoid being seen, but it didn't last. Jenny spotted me and started walking. Jack looked up to see what caught her attention. Ice cream man. Here they came, walking more or less side by side. I'm wondering how much this extended honeymoon they're engaged in has do to with Jenny having fallen in love with Jack. Her resistance is more symbolic now than it was before. Today I saw her kick him only once. They walked to the gate with happy demeanors, each one tuned to the other's presence like I'd never seen before. He can't pull away from her. She's a magnet that draws him to her.
jack left, jenny right
time out, it's the ice cream man
A show of equine behavior every day. I laugh today at how naïve I was a few months ago feeling like Jenny needed some women's liberation or something. She had to be Alpha donkey and dance her romantic role with Jack at once. Seems like cause for inner conflict. Of course, I'm projecting human mind onto donkey as if donkey has no mind of its own. Donkeys are not just acting out, they are being donkey. Imagining an interview between human and donkey.
H: What were y'all doing out there?
D: What? Where? 
H: The kicking and biting. 
D: What?
H: The kicking and biting and Jack walking Jenny around in a circle by the neck. What's up with that?
D: What? It's what we do. What of it?
H: Well is it a dance?
D: A what? A dance? A dance? No.
H: Doesn't it hurt Jenny when Jack clamps down on her neck and frustrate her when he restricts her movement?
D: Hurt? What are you talking about? We're playing. Got a carrot?
jack sez: carrot

1 comment:

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