BY WILLIAM EVANS
I know when it doesn’t flinch at my arrival, that the rabbit
in my front yard is dead. I knew this under yesterday’s
sun, when the rabbit tried to move and could do nothing
but stare at me, drowning in my merciful shadow.
I have returned today to see that my home has found
death, or that death has found the shadow I fled to.
The rabbit is so small, the grass has barely bothered
to part for it. I wonder if it will do the work for me, and pull
the rabbit into itself. I’ve seen a street do that. I’ve seen small
creatures left on a sidewalk, their bodies elongated and still
until someone confirmed that they would never pull the world
into their lungs again, and then they were gone, as if the concrete
had not been fed. But it is insatiable, the tar and the earth
and the blood it demands. I find a shovel, because it is still
hot out, and my daughter will want to play here. I assume we all
dance among the dead, especially if we don’t know any better.
I do not want her to see the rabbit like this, where the rabbit is no
longer a thing as opposed to a thing left behind, but I do not
want her to not see it either, as I don’t know when someone
she loves will leave something behind that she no longer recognizes.
And isn’t this what I went to college for? To buy a home in a place
where my daughter can learn about death from small animals
instead of classmates? I learned that animals flee a scarier thing
unless they have forgone fear or are already dead, because
one time a police officer told us to stop, and we ran into
the arms of a new night, except for Big Kevin, who must not
have been scared, or was already dead, either way, the next
day, he was still on the sidewalk, and the day after that he
was gone. I do not know if the cracks of his burial took him in
or who was assigned the shovel. My father told me that I didn’t
have to go to Kevin’s funeral if I didn’t want to and that
someday we would move to a neighborhood where
this doesn’t happen. But it is too late to teach me about
what gets left behind. I am still afraid of what may find me
though I no longer flinch.