On Reading Thoreau
Midtrail the carcass of a rabbit
half-hidden on the side. Death is
disconcerting in natural camouflage—
all the blood’s seeped into the moss
and the needles stir with the light
stench of rot. There’s an invisible
bird and it won’t stop singing.
Upward - the pull of blue sky the top
of the hill framed in yellow leaves.
I walk on, trailing the bell-like tune.
In the shooting yesterday the police walked
away leaving the dead and the wounded
glinting in the thick silence of the sun. O,
heady burning mirages. How warm can September get
in these parts of the land? Hours
passed and then the street was
bustling with people who watched
where they stepped.
I get out of the forest before it closes on me.
The afternoon sprawls on the fields, reddening
at the fringes. I look back to see the bird
appear out of the bushes. It’s quiet
here on the hill, a chill running through the bone,
the dull pain of a dilating soul. White bird
on singed foliage. And I wonder how much it takes
to aim and flick the switch or pull the trigger,
face untwitching. How sweet the blade. Is that inside
all of us? The urge to rip apart the bird
flew up to a higher branch and left
me with my own madness
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AK Afferez is a queer writer currently living in France. They’d like to have you think they spend their days sipping wine and scribbling in notebooks at a fashionable café, but they are most likely trying to either survive grad school, write a book, or parent a cat with a God complex. They work for Winter Tangerine & Vagabond City, and they blog for Ploughshares. Favorite small talk topics include the apocalypse, tarot, and lesbian history. They tweet @akafferez.