In the forgetfulness of time

Once, years ago when I was feeding stray cats, careless inattention to the dwindling supplies left me without cat food for two days. Around mid-afternoon of the second day, I remember the boldest of the half-grown kittens scenting the remains of my lunch & clawing her way up my shirt front, sharp teeth raking through my chin hairs & her sandpaper tongue running back & forth across my lower lip. It wasn’t anything like love – or then again, maybe it was.

Hunger itself is difficult to recall. Once eased, the creases in the belly leave little trace of themselves & one craves nothing further than a nap. “I want to want,” an anorexic once told me. She had learned the art of oneness from a Mobius strip.

On New Year’s Day, carving the pork roast, my knife scrapes against the shoulder blade of the pig – an animal so similar to humans in its anatomy that students of forensic anthropology often work with pig carcasses, and headhunters in New Guinea used to call their human quarry “long pig.” I lift the bone free of the roast & gnaw the few scraps still clinging to it. The slices of meat lean together in the serving dish like pleats of an accordion, or a sideways pile of books – thin, juicy romance novels, meant to warm the body & dull the brain. Come, let us eat our hearts out, making believe the year is young again & the hungry months of winter are at our backs. Oh oracle bone, scapula, let us gorge.

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