"The Undercoat" by Tracy Lynne Oliver

Nobody tells you about the undercoat. The blacker, the thicker. How it ends up wet-matted around your feet like piling bird corpses. No, you have to brush and brush to understand this. You have to collect it like old newspapers. A hoarding. You can be buried under it, so warm until you stop breathing. 

I can skin this animal and make many more animals.

I can harvest from this animal and harvest more animals from this harvest.

 

She stays still and I hum to her as if she were a child and me, her mother. I hear my voice singing over the concrete block wall. There is a metal sound when it hits the ground. A sharp pain where it shouldn’t be and she’s still standing still. And you want to take her in your arms and rock her.

 

A good girl.

 

The neighbor comes out and hauls the fur. He will wrap himself, his children, his wives. I will pretend not to notice when I see them at the grocery store as they leave swipes of the dirty coat on sides of milk cartons, on the freezer case door, on the beer-box pyramid and pumpkins, as the manager asks them, politely, to please leave.

 

You can keep throwing it away into eternity and it will keep coming back. You can keep throwing it away into eternity and it will keep coming back. You can keep throwing it away into eternity and it will keep coming back. 

You can die inside this loop. You can wish to kill.

 

See it cute and wobbly. Its one black eye. Its soft belly. Just remember the undercoat and how it will take you apart, one year at a time. Choose another.  One without a darkness.  Leave the neighbor naked.