Thinking to have their fun, those boys 
set a match to the kerosene-soaked 
rabbit 
            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
had ceased.
                  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
laughing.

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
                                            with someone,
not you.

*

And after another moment, the smallest boy
was made to carry the charred and smoking 
meat 
         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
among cobwebs.

Stop rationalizing
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
                                                           into memory.

It burned for a while, and then I felt 
nothing at all.