NUISANCE

Nuisance was a dry wind, a summer’s mosquito hanging on for dear life. Nuisance was a plough loosening earth, a mosquito longing to fill full. Protein, water, ions, gases. Nuisance was life and wastes, another year’s calendar, an almanac forecasting violences. Nuisance was a clinging for life. Dear life: was a mosquito filled with the iron of cosmic space, with everything a human could be full of. Nuisance was a hope that no one was watching, a fear of gently breathing bodies. The country air smelled of cows and pigs and shit. 

Nuisance was a barefoot mosquito bite, a hoof abscess, a stumbling horse. A hoof. A block of nerves, a hoof of whispers, a weakness in a marble statue, a fracture of gas pockets, a horse gone lame. Nuisance was a country meadow, a farmhouse, a pond at the edge of a cemetery, a red fox forever on a woodland path. Forever on a woodland path. Forever on a woodland path. Nuisance was all of wildlife.

Starving, Nuisance went out looking for a rock in a hard place, rushed out nightly to the old farmhouse, this time found overturned garbage cans, an overturned coyote. A coyote of weeping holes, round holes plugged up with round bullets. Round and hard as hours. With a brush of his tail, Nuisance tried to signal, but detected no signs. No signs of life, no coyotes sighing, no weeping muzzles. Only death. Nuisance had a reputation with the farmhouse, a reputation for overturned garbage cans, for spooking coyotes, for his ghostly brush. His brother taught him how to brush, how to hunt. Nuisance stared out at the old farmhouse cemetery, the pond of ducks at the edge of night. His tail dipped and stirred. Only death.

The tail of Nuisance would not stir forever. His brother taught him this. His brother taught him the weight of an egg, the protein of a yolk, taught him how to sly and how to hide. How to cross invisible property lines, how to devour with the sharp of his teeth, the rough of his tongue. The brothers, a unified nuisance, shared the same warm Georgia climate, the same short red bristle. One name, one night, the cemetery pond went red with Nuisance, red Muscovy wattle swinging from fangs, a brother carrying a meal to a brother. But a sudden summer wind carried a heat, the two barrels of a shotgun’s blast. Nuisance barked for his brother and only memories barked back. His tail would stir forever.

A hard rain filled the overturned garbage cans, the overturned lids became heavy with water. Blood disappeared from the mosquitoes and the wings of the mosquitoes collapsed in the rain. Lightning struck and an ancient branch collapsed onto Nuisance, crossed his eyes, blurred his vision. Worms unwound in the underneath and the wet soil absorbed the pain of the fox and the roots of the broken tree drank from the puddle swallowing the fox. The farmhouse shook on the hillside, the farmer shook in the depth of his bed, the farmer’s wife dreamed of her husband sinking, their teenaged son dreamed of unimaginable crimes. The wings of the mosquitoes dreamed of the sky, the broken tree dreamed of Nuisance, and Nuisance dreamed only to fill full. 

In the morning, there was Nuisance again. Still pinned beneath the heavy branch, beneath the innocent gaze of a young lamb’s chops. By morning, the mosquitoes’ wings had dried, went searching for skinny-dippers in the cemetery pond. Don’t you look weak, the cheeky white lamb bleated. A tiny wooden cross rested against the little lamb’s shoulder, a symbol of the meadow, an admirer of Grünewald. A cross across a colorless pane. A white pane of glass and no stain. A white pane to command the difference between light and dark, a candle of screaming white.

Nuisance dreamed of impossible grey light, a gunk of a light that no human could ever know. This grey light caused a gigantic suction inside the fox, an obscene void. An animal-light of angers, a light that sloped into the fox-heart of Nuisance. A criss-cross of rumbling branches. When did the bark of a fox become a terrorism, when did human become adversary? Nuisance recalled seeing himself reflected in the cemetery pond, a mirror filled with skinned bodies, clumsy takings, an image that would not multiply . A future that gaped empty of foxes.

Are you supposed to be a martyr, asked Nuisance, What is your cause? The white lamb bleated a sinful song of coordinates, properties, borders. Baaa, baaa! The white lamb voweled loyalty to farmer and farm, proudly twirled its cross like a baton. In the distance: a storm-shattered window, a bedsheet twisting from the farmer’s son’s window. Nuisance sighed beneath the heavy, fallen branch. Do I bore you? What about my clothing of delight? The white lamb looked soft and thirsty. Thirsty for morals, for reason, for order. The lamb wanted Nuisance to be jealous of its image, its infinity. 

The farmer’s son approached with scythe in hand, his distant bedsheet ladder still twisting in the open window, twisting like a sick DNA strand, straining like a boy’s eyes strain, his grip tightening, hands evolved for killing, convolved with land and water, the white lamb of all sins ready to self-sacrifice in the blink of an eye. But not one eye blinked! The teenaged boy knew it wasn’t the slaughter of a lamb that would wake and wow a father, but the slaughter of a fox. The boy’s eyes traveled to the end of his scythe, to the end of the country meadow, to the end of the Savannah river, to the end of the Atlantic, to the end of Nuisance. Then he smiled and he said it aloud to make it more real, To the end of Nuisance

The farmer’s son blinked. He blinked with his scythe, he blinked again and again. He blinked until the red fox flowed red. Endless red. The little white lamb recited the Lord’s prayer and the farmer’s son blinked. The wind blew hard and the farmer’s son blinked and the fox did not blink. The wind blew hard and the twisting sheet twisted until it snapped from the window. The wind blew hard and sent streaks of blood across the boy’s face, across the boy’s scythe. 

 

Severed from the body, the head of the red fox didn’t look real anymore. It looked like a Halloween mask, but the eyes still looked. The round eyes of the red fox looked and looked. The eyes of the boy looked, like the eyes of the red fox looked. The teeth of the red fox still looked sharp and the tongue of the red fox still looked sharp. The farmer’s son didn’t want to look at those eyes anymore, so he used a spoon. The farmer’s son didn’t want to look at that tongue anymore, so he used a knife. Most of all, the boy didn’t want to look at all that red anymore, so he picked up a hose and washed it all away.

The farmer’s son could hardly wait to wear the mask of the red fox. The head was clean now, but it was still a bit soggy. Soft tissue surrounding the red fox neck still wiggled, still somewhat alive. He could hardly wait so he went to his father’s shed, went reaching for his father’s top-performing gas leaf blower. The son’s father loved that leaf blower and the son loved that it gave his father the smell of fathers. Gasoline. He once caught his father blowing the farm’s only flag, an American flag. The farmer pointed his leaf blower up at the sky and gusts of wind and gusts of wind made the flag flow so majestically. What are you doing Pa, the farmer’s son shouted. What, shouted the farmer. I like the way it looks. Blowing in the wind like that. That’s when the boy remembered: the leaf blower was a question, a noise. A constant noise. The leaf blower was a nuisance and a nuisance would surely wake his father on a Sunday morning. He stared into the empty eyeholes of the red fox and waited. 

The farmer’s son was tired of waiting, tired of waiting for the fur to dry, for the mask not to stick. He reached his hand into the fox, as if it were a puppet, controlled the muzzle, simulated muscle and jaw. Making the sharp fox teeth move with his human hand, smiling with his fingers, looking into the round empty holes of the fox, looking with the round eyes of a living boy. That living boy, that son of a farmer, all sons of a God. That living boy lifted the face of the fox up into the sunlight, the bright rays shot through the eyes and the boy recalled the spoon, his breakfast cereal spoon, his body swelling a history of Saturday morning cartoons, the hunter and the rabbit, the hunter and the rabbit, the Fudd of a gun, the seductiveness of chance, the explosive distance between self and other. A shroud of wilted roses, after. After all. 

Inside now, incoming camouflage! The sly hunter stood in front of his Mama’s wondrous mirror. Age-spotty, the red fox muzzle tightened around his mouth. Mise en abyme in the aged glass, forever on a woodland path, syncing up with a bank of mirrors, a triptych of foxes. The mask had nearly dried, but the soft gore of the fox still breathed. The boy still breathed. The brush of a tail, the whisper of a meadow. Outfoxed, the boy breathed in the contents of the mirror, drooled like an animal. The shared throat stretched and opened in new ways and the light of the room disappeared the shadow from the fox. Disappeared the boy from the eyeholes. Disappeared the boy from the fox.  

Outside again, Nuisance was known as hunt or be hunted, the motion of a diving fawn, knew the upside-down of attack, the unending squash of sweetgum night, entrails and a slender tongue, another spring of instincts, the up-down of shoulder-bulbs along high weeds, pointed ears, arrows to the sky, how those ears clarified the fox, terrified the neighborhood, errors of its ways, the uncontrollable heat of bodies. Nuisance fox to farmer’s boot, nuisance fox to passing truck. Outside again, Nuisance steered his human vessel, drifted on the woodland path. A static in the ear, a microphone held to a pelt, a breath brought to a halt. New terrain, a life cut in twain.

Cut in twain, tangled specter. Through a biting—a crushing! Nuisance fox fluxed into something slightly wide, a new and only slightly Nuisance causing a ruckus wherever it went. Are foxes causing a nuisance in your garden, read a blood-red font on a pest control website. Parasite, it screamed. Nuisance, it screamed. If you are experiencing nuisance, call us, it whispered. If you find the language of extermination erotic, call us. If you were wondering if a skeleton might last for millions of years, call us. For balance as perceived by men of old, call us. For the silence of death as revealed by wild extravagance, call us. We are standing by, by any means necessary, at any cost.   

Two and not one, Nuisance would surely be censored. Obscene with a boy’s torso, a fox’s snout, Nuisance stood no chance alone in the neighborhood grocery store. Hungry, he stared at those packaged forms, longed for those cutlets. Cool, glowing meat. Price-tagged and plastic, reflecting incandescent overhead lighting, Nuisance felt a throbbing in its heart. Onlookers pointed, a small child held a trash bag open, screamed, Fox, fox! The boy’s shredded soul stirred, felt mouthless. Chased out, Nuisance fled the warmth of the mob and returned to the country meadow, to the farmhouse, to the pond at the edge of the cemetery. 

May all creatures be happy. May all beings be free from suffering, sang the white lamb. A clearing in the woods, a kneeling on the grass. Its pure, white fleece glowed in the ominous moon, the non-earth. Its pure, white fleece soaked up the signal of a satellite twisting and retwisting its bodily data across a sky of invisible horizontals, verticals, unimaginable ribbons of information, vertebrating night, vibrating daylight’s colors into versicolors, new colors skittled across a screen like zeros, a zero forever giving meaning to both negatives and positives, a zero a nuisance a nuisance state a stage of siege, a many-surfaced taxidermy, the repeated attempts to preserve an original, the original meat, the sound, the way a living tongue can decimate another living tongue—all of it—soaking up an unseen sun, an exhausted sun. Somewhere between ear and err. A clearing in the woods, a kneeling on the grass.

 

Suffering is a reality, innocence is fiction, said Nuisance, slowly approaching the lamb, the lamb carefully leaning against its tiny wooden cross. You sound like a Buddhist, not a Christian, said Nuisance. Don’t all beings deserve happiness, hammed the little white lamb. Are you happy, asked Nuisance. Are you happy with your vows? Or have you begun doubting your own faith? The white lamb shook its head, leaned its delicate body against its tiny cross. No, cried the lamb. I am the constant burden of symbols and I will always carry this burden and it is my burden to carry and you will always be a nuisance. The lamb knelt and prayed  for Nuisance

Just as the fox tore the first limb from the lamb, the deranged farmer’s boy woke up inside the fox, woke up at war with his animal. Nuisance was at war with the lamb, just as the boy was at war with his fox. After all, the boy was to grow up to be a farmer, a hunter, a man of the land. Curious phrase, isn’t it? After all. Something about the pure contemplation of reality, something that gets under one’s skin. The boy recalled eighth grade, a science class, a science teacher’s projector and the projected image: an elephant grieving, its trunk tossing dirt over a dead elephant. Grief, burial, spectacle. The fox woke up against the boy, gnashed its teeth against the boy, the little white lamb. Iamb, Blake’s softly breathing song. Manifesto of the lamb, registration of the environment, the rendering of innocence, the end of humanity. Nuisance devoured innocence.

Protein, water, ions, gases. Nuisance was life and wastes, after all. The boy had become an absence. Like a distant fox, a deceased brother, like a red Muscovy wattle, one life taken to enflame another. A kind of ghostly flesh. A flesh that hangs on for dear life. And you? You are here now, a bark between fox and everything else. Yesterday’s trumpet blast from the shower has since turned your bathroom cold and red, red as the branches of collapsed eyes. A fading signal. Your mouth, your red-furred muzzle—doesn’t know what to say anymore, so your eyes just moan electrocution, porch lamps damning moths, farmland forcing a quiver. In summary, a fox can damage a garden, but so can the rain. So take your two barrels, aim ‘em at the rain. Kill the sky, the sun, the moon if you have to! Make a trophy of the night! All that I want, all that I ask for is even the smallest nuisance.

The all of wildlife.



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