Animals Maul Me

Animals Maul Me

Sometimes I don’t know what to say. Sometimes I don’t know how to save my own faggotass from heartbreak. Sometimes the trees catch on fire and we burn furniture and listen to bluegrass and we talk about butterbeans and we cry and cry and cry. Sometimes my friends lose their homes and sometimes I can okra and green tomatoes with fresh garlic.

Everything is covered in mud from my bibs to my dog to my boots to my bedspread. I spent the summer draggin my own heart through the mud and most of the fall and the winter too. But, it’s been worth it for the most part. When you find something good you have to hold onto it with all the strength the mountains provide you with.

Sometimes you can watch hearts break in public if you know what you’re lookin’ at. I saw a boy eat spaghetti. He ate like a tiger, like a toad, like a firefly. His eyes bulged out of his head and he held his fork so delicately, it was as if he was scared it might break. I watched him as he slowly spun the spaghetti against the cresting lip of the plate. I heard the boy talk to the spaghetti. The boy said “I would hate me too, if I were you” and the boy said to the spaghetti, “Let’s pretend that this is all new, all fresh, that nothing bad has ever happened, that we are meeting just now for the first time.” After a while the boy wiped his face with a cloth napkin and then the spaghetti was gone. The boy sat at the table for a long time running his finger around the rim of his plate. The boy picked up his fork and inspected it and placed it back down on the plate. The boy picked up a knife off of the table that had gone unused during the meal and stuck it in his shirt pocket with the butter blade pointing down. I heard the boy say, “I miss you” and take a sip of water from a tall glass on the table. I heard the boy say, “You’re not forgotten” and he got up to clear his plate.

Call it heartbreak on the hillside or call it vulnerability. Today I smudged my bedroom with sage I stole from my ex-hippie roommate. I smudged the rattan chair with my Romanian rug thrown over the back and the sheepskin draped over the arm, I smudged the dog bowl filled with freezing brown well water, I smudged my shotgun patiently waiting in the corner of my room with the safety off. When my friends come over they’re always surprised by the delicate nature of my bedroom.

Animals maul my flesh and I find comfort in that somehow. It’s like putting a cigarette out on your arm after your sugarpie leaves you for good, but better somehow. Animals maul me and I don’t care.

If a wild hog rolled up bedside and asked me to jab its tusk straight through my cheek, I’d probably oblige. There’s so much fever inside of me and so much ice held back behind my eyes. The fever fights the ice, but no one ever wins. Small lizards wedge themselves in my armpits and bite me as hard as they can without ever drawing blood.

I tell myself I don’t care what the animals have to say about me but also, I care more than anything about it. I care about it in a way that makes me sick, worrying about fairness and divided time and whether or not I can still cry. I don’t want to be told not to cry while I stand in a shallow grave trying my best to grow a mustache.

I wanna talk to dragonflies about their dreams and ask what makes them sad and ask the dragonflies how they think I can be a better man. I looked into a mirror and all I saw was the white thickness of a cow’s skull floating midair. Its hollowed eyes staring back at me as if to say, “You too are empty.” I looked at the skull and I said, “Introduce me to the maggots who ate your head.” I looked at the skull and I said, “So much salt within you and you still just wind up dead.”

I’ve kissed everything around me and every animal that’s ever come to me. I’ve kissed the stones and the river and the trees overgrown, the turtle doves and the armadillos, the flying fish and the parakeets too. I’ve kissed everything around me in a way that made things grow inside me, for at least a little while.


About the Author

Rebekah Morgan lives in Appalachia. His writing has appeared at Hobart, Anti-Heroin Chic, New York Tyrant, Bad Nudes, Instant, For Every Year, Faded Out, X-R-A-Y, and Witchcraft Magazine.


Photo by Jeswin Thomas from Pexels