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To Save One Animal from Sickness,
It Is Necessary to Sacrifice Another
I know a woman who loved
her husband’s flight so much
that she strapped a condor
to her back. Naked in
the quemadero she thrashed.
Now her struggle is a retablo.
The viewer cannot tell
wing from arm.
There are other saints
they say she guarded
with her body—one
who pit barbecued
the head of a cow; another
who crushed coca leaves
between her breasts
and danced cumbia.
To save one animal
from sickness it is necessary
to know which. They say
she was afraid at first
of the tree-line, of the blood’s
quick ascent. Melded into
a bell the fat of each animal
will make a new music.
The Interrogator Goes to the Forest
in Pursuit of Mindful Meditation
with passages from “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception”
Here are the redwoods, which keep
their own counsel. Here is the field, not far
from the fire road where, it is said,
the young painter went to commit suicide.
The details of the story must be correct,
although the story itself may be untrue—
i.e. beware the parched, snapped branch
tossed against a mausoleum of grass, its
gesture of self-erasure in the Romantic sense
for which there’s no cure. Whether the painter
meant to hurt her husband, who, in any case,
remarried and patented an expensive compound;
whether the hiker who found the body
covered her eyes with leaves or coins,
a wise liar will use as few details as possible.
Invasive flowers muck up the domestic, yes.
I’ve come here to force from mindfulness
the kind of peace that requires no forgiveness—
i.e. the prisoner’s body wasn’t so much a body
as an idea about an invasive species, or the rabbits
my mother politely poisoned for eating
her peonies and the menagerie of stone bunnies
that bore witness. Prey has a scent, like fear,
like sweat. Facts, too. For once, do not ask
who or what. Here again, total control is
essential. Here again, I believe the painter
might’ve lived and been satisfactorily
productive. Being male, this agent probably
is stressing the wrong point, but the idea
is sound as the memory of a woman,
a Nicaraguan national, suspiciously soft,
who loved the words attaché and abatir,
whom I loved covertly as a container
housing a few drops of poison may be
attached to a coin whenever it is natural
to handle coins. It is no longer natural
to inquire: Do you still dream of me, too?
Do you remember white votive candles
burned down to metal on the ledge of a hotel bath?
Mission, long ago suicide, long ago woman
all share a common property in that
they will not be questioned. It may be
that all that needs to be said is to
wonder aloud if it is going to rain
or stop raining as befits the situation.
Kara Candito is the author of “Spectator” (University of Utah Press, 2014) and “Taste of Cherry” (University of Nebraska Press, 2009). Her work has been published in AGNI, The Kenyon Review, jubilat, Drunken Boat, and elsewhere. Candito is the winner of a Pushcart Prize and the recipient of scholarships and awards from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Council for Wisconsin Writers, the MacDowell Colony, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.