Vinegar Valley

Bonnie Thibodeau
Featured image: untitled © Arturo Stanig 2019


I thought I heard a bunny scream
where I stepped.
But the country taught me
to keep running, or has made me
afraid to stop
to face what I cannot mend.

My muscles learned to anticipate mortality
at any moment. The doe caught between
tree lines and traffic, the muskrat clenched
in my dog’s jaws, the coyote in my landlord’s snare,
the hen in the fox’s jaws, the field mouse in the cat’s belly
the old hungry mare in a barren winter pasture,
the neighbor’s wife in their wedding bed.
They all leave the living
at different paces, without stopping, without end.

I’m grown reluctant to invite
any feelings
which cannot be of service.

The bull frog’s horn—a weighted sound
lying low like dense morning fog
in the reeds—should be some comfort.
But the sun is falling
and it hits me like my father’s silence.

Would I hear an older rabbit wailing if I listened,
or did I only imagine the harm in my passing?