by Jared Povanda

“Clawing” was selected for THE BODY microprose longlist.

The buck, turning on his hook like a porcelain ballerina in a music box, slow, slow, a whole heavenly revolution before his eyes found mine, before his blood’s percussive pop pop pop in the bucket reached me in any real way—antlers dusting the cement, tongue lolling, body sunken where his entrails should have been, would have been, for not the hands of man, Dad’s hands, iron-snouted gun barrel, gun’s bullet, gunpowder presiding over the scent of winter as flakes fell fast over the forest—and I remember all those haunted nights back in college, the ones where I reached for the skin of my stomach, despising the way my stretch marks moved with me, all to figure out what I had to claw off if I wanted to hear compliments from the jeering voices inside my phone, who if only I let them, would have made me feel better about my squish and bone the same color as a skull, the buck’s and mine, and so too all the skulls of the birds in the sky, my thrush and tit and finch and raven and robin in her nest with her chicks, wings spread to cut a silhouette in shadowed symmetry on the eave of the house, unlike me, unlike me, unlike me, and her kids reach to take the vomit she presses into their mouths, all open-beaked and trusting, never for one moment doubting their purpose or the machinations of their bodies, never feeling hung upside down, blood out and drained, not once, because even if the fox was to flash one from the air, throat torn to tatters, smudgy feathers in a slow gyre around and around to the darkening ground in a horrid mimic of the sakura in spring, one could claim that it is the good design of the body to open in such a remarkable, natural, perfect way as to accommodate the passage of someone else’s violence.

Jared Povanda is a writer from the wilds of upstate New York. His work has been published in Riggwelter Press, Silver Needle Lit, CHEAP POP, Back Patio Press, and Lammergeier, among others. Find him online @JaredPovanda.

Artwork by: Muthuvel Deivendran

Muthuvel Deivendran is pursuing Masters in Anthropology at the University of Madras. He previously worked as a high school teacher helping kids understand Society. He lives currently in Chennai, India.