Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

The woman calls from the window that it is getting dark. And as if her saying so makes it so, night descends upon late afternoon. How will she keep her eye on that sparrow, as the song instructs? The evening is inkier than the underside of a wing. If she hesitates and doesn’t turn the lights on right away, she has only the tips of her fingers to tell the lintel from the post. There is more than flour and oil and water in her house. There are sheets and comforters and coats. Across the city are several warehouses brimming with food in boxes and jars, cases of water stacked on wooden pallets. There is always more than one mouth to feed, each with more than its share of hunger, each saying give, and give. She remembers her grandfather arriving from the farm: how swiftly he worked in the kitchen, deboning a fish or butterflying a chicken, not getting a drop of blood on his white shirt; his mouth puckering as he recalled the war— We were lucky if we had salt, if we found husks of grain that we could chew. He asked, Have you ever had to eat the peel of a banana? Peel off the wing of a roasted beetle? The flame on the stove gutters. The year draws to a close, and here we are, sliding around in its maw, listening for the rasp of implements adjusting.


In response to small stone (174).

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