Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bird, Rabbit, Son

In her hands, a small bird like an organ stitched outside the body. But the bird has died and she carries the carcass, which to her is still the bird. Beyond the field stands the horse, white, shrouded in mane, stomping its bored hooves into the dust.

My brother is a boy, and there, my sister with her white-blond hair stands recalling the day she killed a rabbit. It was an accident. She dropped the tiny white creature and it curled its spine, stretched its body not in flight, but ugly, like a rat or cold fish flopping. The neck snapped at the spine, the rabbit dead. I tried to comfort her. "I know it’s not my fault," her frail child’s body in pink bathing suit, her voice like one who knew no darkness, as though darkness existed only beyond her. 

My brother then. I don’t recall his childhood. Faintly, he was writing a book about a white stallion and we all laughed with unrestrained glee at this. Sweetly, we walked the road home together once during a spring-break from college. He was five, perhaps. Filled in the way well-loved children are with fearless love. “Race me to the sign,” I shouted and away he ran.

And what if the organ, dead, worked its way to the outside of the body; worked its way through the skin to surface like a sliver of wood? If the body can generate life, why not regenerate? Plucked like an apple—torn away—leaving the skin paler and pink-hued, a scar to mark its deliverance.


It is autumn and we are full-fledged now. In the yard behind our duplex, I sit with my son, two-years-old. He picks the burdock I have told him not to pick, one stuck already in his downy red hair. I watch him, my love unrestrained, fiercely protective of this one life, my own, and yet weary in the way one who has learned to distrust her instincts grows weary.

Gunmetal: The sky is blue and clouds catch there, smoky and bone-white, their edges lit up like neon bar signs. Deep afield in the blue and heady acres, the clouds grab hold. I close my eyes and listen, far off, the sound of honking geese, screeching like children in the school-yard. But when I open my eyes I can’t see them, not yet. This strange honking like something from another time, like nothing of this time, time-out-of-time, in the space of this era where we touch each other not with hands, hold each other not with voice, where we kill each other not with gun—with gun—but robotic man-machines.

Nothing I held true as a child 
still holds.

The geese are afloat now in the sky; beautiful black bodied, dark bodies flying there in pitched arch. I hold my son in my arms. He points with tiny hands. I don’t know what he sees, what he shouts out. But he is pleased. Later we will roll in the grass and he will jump on me again and again, screaming with bodily pleasure, wild with exhaustion, set free.


I am always trying to get at something that exists, rests, lives, just around the bend. There were years when I lost everything. We believe in our immunity, that our privilege vaccinates us from caring about the dead, lost, imprisoned, stolen, or enslaved. Not the ones overseas, over there, but the ones right here. And our children, God, our children, they cannot be here in this paragraph too. Dead organs make their way to the skin, where you will pluck them like fruit, or let them fall upon the loamy earth, and become fertilizer. Already the body regenerates anew.

In her hands, a dead bird, cupped there as she flees.

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