We are lying on the couch together, your arms around me. The sound of our animals running around, reminding me of the day we explored an abandoned bath house. As we ascended the stairs, we heard a feral skittering above. We gave quiet retreat.
Another part of the property, by the baths, the remnants of a deer. All that remained were the legs, tipped with those black hooves, the rusty fur in patches on the ground.
Now I see the deer bounding into a small break in the wooden wall, attempting for days to get out until succumbing to exhaustion.
Then starvation, the inner hollowing.
Blinking, breathing slower. Dying.
What are you thinking about? you ask.
Sergeant Calvin Gibbs is found guilty of killing Afghani citizens, pruning fingers from his victims. He also pulled a tooth from one man, saying in court that he had ‘disassociated’ the bodies from being human, that taking the fingers and tooth was like removing antlers from a deer…But he insisted that the people he took them from had posed genuine threats to him and his unit.
You and I go to a bar and strike up conversation with two aging Angelinos—a Filipino-American and Mexican-American, old friends. Somehow, we get to terrorism. One explains Israeli airlines don’t let Muslims on planes. How if you needed to get somewhere and the Israeli airline didn’t let you on, you were shit out of luck. We say this isn’t fair.
Do you think the terrorists are playing fair?
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t, I say. He tells me I’m naïve, his hand on my shoulder.
You little one, you little bunny, he says. You little fawn.
I buy budding sprigs for my room, the largest branch like a fine antler, nearly four feet in length. The tips brush the ceiling, purple petals beginning to work from grey buds.
The tips tremble almost continually.
© Diana Arterian