I started this essay by staring at a picture of rabbits slammed against a cane wire wall in the dirt of old California. I thought maybe it could teach me something, or give me a good metaphor for human living, but instead I kept thinking about the rabbits that run out from under the bushes whenever I have stopped paying attention to the road.
When I went to Colombia this winter, I got in a plane and flew across the shallow water of the Gulf until we landed in a hotter city. There were as many people in the city where we landed as there were in the city we had left, and I thought about the cities where I have not been—Shanghai and Mumbai and Rio de Janiero among them—where there are many more people in much tighter spaces, waking up and eating breakfast and doing what they have to do.
My concept of space can’t really handle the idea of 6 billion and counting. Too many names. Too many faces. When I think about Syria, I think about bodies floating in the Mediterranean Sea, and when I think about Russia, I think about men in the woods of Siberia, drunk and cursing at their dogs. My shorthand for each place isn’t a good explanation or a whole truth, but it is a way to turn towards the places I find it hard to see.
This week a woman bled out in the road in front of my house. I heard the gunshot and when I asked Tye about it, he said it was too quiet to have been a gun, but it was. She died at the hospital, and the boy that pulled the trigger was only 16. It isn’t clear to anyone why it happened, but the SWAT team came and took him away in the dark morning of Monday, and we sat on our sidewalk and watched them load him into a squad car, still barefoot and groggy from his sleeping.
The strangest thing about death is that other lives continue. The next day, a blue jay flew and perched in the gnarled tree beside my porch. The weeds came up in the yard. The neighbors had visitors and stayed up late, talking. I worked. I ate. I showered. I will do it again. And again. The woman is dead and the boy is lonely now. People who know them are sad in ways they didn’t know they could be.
I ate rabbit once in a restaurant in Manhattan. The bones were so small on my tongue. I was on a date with a Frenchman and I had to yell for him to hear me over the conversations of the people around us. Afterwards we smoked hookah in a dark room where the floor was covered in pillows. His kitchen looked like it had never been used, but I fucked him anyway. I used to do things, like fucking, because I couldn’t figure out a reason not to. Now I prefer doing things because I know what I want.
Those rabbits are all dead now, the same as the people watching them from the other side of the fence. Maybe the rabbits’ great-grands run out in front of other people’s cars these days or maybe they prefer wild places where the creeks and scrub brush grow outside the watchful eyes of industry. I don’t know. I’m just speculating. I didn’t see.
Laura Jean Moore’s poetry, essays, and stories have been featured in VICE, [PANK], the EEEL, FLUX WEEKLY, ENTROPY, the Brooklyn Rail, Corium, the Cobalt Review, and Change Seven, where she is a monthly columnist. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Reed College. http://laurajeanmoore.com/