Two men are explaining the world to each other.
One uses his hands. One uses the words
he uses for everything he needs. It's day
and the light has for them traveled
very far. One man gestures to the other to explain
how one creature might use another
to survive. Sea lice, for instance. Lamprey eels.
What about viruses, he signs,
what about a crystalline structure keyed
to wreak havoc in the brain? A deer
you slew with your father's bow might return
years later to riddle your memory with holes.
He gesticulates and his arms mimic a serpent
draped over the branch of a tree. But that's no
parasite. The man with the words considers.
He wants to say something about mythology.
How the deer might have been a god
and there is punishment written in the margins
of the world in a small and cramped script.
About how there might be a prohibition
against eating something you didn't kill,
at least, not with your own hands. He says it.
The man who speaks with his hands puts his
around the other man's neck. Like this?
He tightens. It feels right.
There aren't words for it so the other just nods.
Pleiades Issue 33.2
Copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Hazelton
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission