(click individual photos above for captions)
I saw three ferrets of my generation obsessed with scampering, chittering,
quite calmly naked, strolling through Toronto streets in the afternoon,
their presumed owner whistling as he gently jostled his triple-headed leash,
But Cerberus these domesticated polecats were not
They scrambled down Yonge Street in search of refreshment, or a target
at which to aim their high-pitched chirps, enthralled with this newfound joy de vivre,
participating in society beyond their apartment,
experiencing delights they’d only ever witnessed via television commercials
These ferrets were worldly now, and sensed their world shift in kind
“But why a trio?”, one of my companions uttered as she donned a pensive face-scrunch
“Does one serve as the deciding Justice in the event of a tie vote?
Did their owner, perhaps, prefer fame under the ‘Triple Ferret Man’ moniker?
Did ‘Quadruple Ferret Man’ sound too sheepheaded?”
I sensed furrows forming in triplicate—one for each mysterious creature—
as I furiously contemplated the possibilities
Were the ferrets originally a performing quartet, but learned of Alvin and his chipmunks,
coveted that band’s sizeable success, and concluded three rodents
are more likely to charm crowds than four?
“That’s impossible,” another friend snorted indignantly as we unwrapped
gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches in the crisp April breeze
“Ferrets are weasels, not rodents, and when joy sneaks behind them and strikes,
they leap and lunge, fight nearby objects, hop sideways frantically!
Bartokomous dubbed it the Dance of Joy, but in the halls of the ferret fandom,
such celebration is known as the ‘weasel war dance’
A four-ferret dance ensemble is exhaustingly predictable, but three ferrets?
No one expects the triple-ferret cha-cha”
“I admire his restraint,” spoke a man in a fashionably paint-stained suit,
temporarily ignoring his French fries to tackle the issue at hand
“I, too, have often dreamt of forming a ferret-based entourage, and no fewer than five
would satisfy my vision. What sort of reckless amateur would I be,
trusting a mere quartet with my reputation?”
Intrigued by this stouthearted stance, I asked if he might consider
four ferrets and a questionably-dressed otter an acceptable substitute
Hours later, our day-long Toronto trek concluded, we piled into the minivan,
sighing with contentment, reminiscing about the wonders we’d visited,
looking towards home wrapped in satisfaction, singing along with 90s hits
But in-between songs, Namrata suddenly blurted out “What if the owner himself
was actually four ferrets inside a trench coat? What if it’s a total of seven?”
Silence swept over the van’s roof, a very localized eclipse,
and my aching feet protested as my adrenaline spiked because
even before I read their expressions, I knew that we were heading back
On a Zoom call earlier this month, I told some friends this story:
@Gracefulshrimp requested a story or poem about The Incident and had a specific plot in mind, which centered on the fact that the man was walking four ferrets. When I found the original Facebook post and realized I’d misremembered the number, I decided to have some fun with that concept.
Tim Jutsum (whose Facebook comment I more or less quoted in the fourth stanza) was not with me that day, nor was @NadkarniNamrata, who came up with the twist ending here. But we have some poetic license available, dear Reader, so I placed them both in Toronto that day with the other Ferret Witnesses, as we would come to call ourselves.**
**We absolutely didn’t do that.
Want to see everything I’ve created in the same place? Because you can do that!