That dog padded home wearing a rip in his back, clicked onto the kitchen linoleum with a five-inch smile down his saddling spine. Where pebbles and dark grit stuck to the wound's lips, vertebrae like molars grinned through in an anemic bluish white. The dumb grey meat of his tongue like a sodden flag waiting for breeze in the post-storm still of that house-- how he lashed the plucked chicken length of it, then lapped at the seepage that hung from black flews. He turned, and turned, and in turning sparks of shock shot from his eyes as his chances of seeing pain dimmed, coiled to a brute whine in his chest, I pictured a bald nest of lab mice pulsing in there crying its cancer away; pictured a shed door, askew on its hinges, mowing thick weeds as it swung; even pictured a field in that dog, where choirs of crickets sawed through the night with the ache in their legs. I could smell the top-heavy cattails' thinning brown felt as it burst, breathing commas on parachutes into the world; heard the travelling s's of garter snakes playing wet grass blades with cadmium scales as they passed through invisible shivers. A lost leather sneaker shone near a stump, like a child's plug-in night-light, or a chipped-off sample of moon. Blue shell casings coughed funnelled web from the throats where their packed shot had been, and bleached-out pages of porn doubled as mainsails, fitted to masts of wild rose. Dew, meltwater cold, slid down my calves like wet wrists unburdening jewels in my boots. Then no one I knew approached through the dark, swinging a carved column of light, prodding the bramble and weeds with his staff that worked like a blind man's stick in reverse. The mauve starbursts of thistles passed through it, casting peaked shadows like crowns. Bugs strafed the beam, reared from the black, threading it again, and again. He didn't call out or raise his free hand or even target his lamp on my head, just kept cresting the weeds with the twin brows of his knees while scanning the foreground for snags. Whether it was that he couldn't imagine me there, and therefore I wasn't, or that my body actually weighed in at nothing, doused as it was in that field's feral moulting, bucking, breathing--its bull-stubborn morphing of intrauterine moments--I couldn't decide. There wasn't time. He passed on the left, dragged by this light as if some shadowy leashed mastiff tractored him on, plunging through weed. Solid black silhouette, receding, until distance undermined outline, form bled into field.
Reprinted from Days into Flatspin with the permission of House of Anansi Press. Copyright © 2001 by Ken Babstock. All rights reserved.