It is late, and I have just set aside the book I am reading, Huysmans's A Rebours, the last line lingering, its image a retinal burn. After describing a carpet, Huysman writes:
It would be a fine experiment to set on this carpet something that would move about and the deep tint of which would bring out and accentuate these tones.
What Huysmans's Des Esseintes places on this carpet is a turtle. But as I am out of turtles, I reach into my past and place upon it the tawny gerbil my mother brought home for me when I was eight and sick with the flu, the one I fed toilet paper to through the bars of its cage and watched as it turned that tissue into a fluffy nest.