Palinode (the Rabbits)
And the worship of killers ended. Grasses came after the rabbit, the dog chewed the fresh shoots and vomited in the driveway. Before this, Pearl, the black rabbit with a silver belly chewed carrots and aimed an eye-mirror at my hand as I reached in the cage; she tolerated my touch. She became a bad rabbit when she ate her kittens while they were still blind and hairless.
“We can’t let her go to waste,” Dad said.
Later, he put my hand on her hide nailed to plywood, saying he’d make me a hat. The bunny had not been undressed like Peter Rabbit who escaped without his clothes, without his shoes. Peter had six books and survived brushes with the farmer every time.
Readers asked what the rabbit had done to me. “We can’t let her go to waste,” I said. And wrote mercies and celestial certainties, a way to eat and be sated. God in the shroud, God in the glistening marbled heap.
I remember the rabbit cried out. And I cried out. Her meat was stringy and bitter, so I spit her out.
“You’ll eat the stew or go hungry,” he said.
The indoctrination of bodies as fodder unfolded in our lives. None of the killers held to account. Peter learned by almost dying, his blue jacket forgotten in the cabbage patch. Pearl’s coat mildewed in the first rain and had to be thrown out. These truths happened. The rabbit becoming grasses. The dog and the vomit. The meddling work of flies and hunger.
Amber Flora Thomas is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently, Red Channel in the Rupture. A recipient of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and other awards, her poetry has been published widely in journals and anthologies. Currently, she is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.