Issue 214, Fall 2015
Thinking to have their fun, those boys
set a match to the kerosene-soaked
then watched it blaze across the lawn
and into the garage
where it thumped
and smoldered behind the wheelbarrow—
and so it also entered the memory
of the girl who watched
from her bedroom window
but never spoke of it to anyone—
and, They were going to skin it and eat it, anyway,
I told myself, having stopped at my desk
to think about the scene
I’d just invented.
Don’t mind me, said the little voice
at the back of the garage.
Then, silence. Tools and a ladder.
I’ve done terrible things,
I said into the black garage.
The rabbit’s scream stayed in the boys’ ears
long after the scuttling in the garage
One of them laughed
uneasily. Then another. Who’s going
to go in there and fetch that cooked rabbit?
the first asked.
Her parents kept many rabbits in cages on the porch.
The girl had learned not to give them names.
Sometimes she even went with her mother
to sell their meat at the market—
so why was she crying?
I forgive you,
said the little voice from behind the wheelbarrow.
It’s not right, said the girl in her room,
looking out the window at the boys
who stood beneath the porch light
You, whom I have wronged, are in the kitchen
making me dinner. A clatter of pans,
and now you’re singing, your voice
drifting up the stairs, I can hear it where I sit
at my desk
in the black garage.
That’s how love
works, I said to the wheelbarrow and tools,
being, at that moment, in love
And after another moment, the smallest boy
was made to carry the charred and smoking
out into the open on a shovel.
They buried it in the garden where no one
would ever find it—
For many years, the girl and her mother
brought meat faithfully to the market.
And when she was older, she snapped
and skinned the rabbits herself.
There’s no explaining a marriage, I said
hunched behind the wheelbarrow
said the voice from its hole.
You had finished cooking our dinner.
Hello, you called from the bottom of the stairs. Hello?
By now, the girl had turned off the bedroom light
and the boys had crossed her black lawn
It burned for a while, and then I felt
nothing at all.