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HARVEST PICTURE

The first woman I had sex with lived in a town 
that was barely alive and she took me once
to this hill on the outskirts, this hill that was built 
from a buried boxcar. She had two inches worth
of gummy hash and we caught the end of the river 
as the river was getting its last light. It was pretty 
beautiful. Then from brush came hundreds 
(was it hundreds?) of rabbits. All adults, some 
underfed. Our splif ebbed and when we’d cherry 
the end of it the rabbits would turn to us and stop 
eating. They walked closer to us before 
gathering under the truck to eat grass tangled 
by the wheels. The heat, she said, softened them 
toward us. She said they loved me and I told her 
I didn’t think that was funny. We undressed 
and twisted each other’s nipples. Hers were little
radio knobs. How lucky were we? We timed 
our finishing and that was a sign we were learning
how to be adults. She told me she had a plan.
She wanted us to wait for the rabbits to settle
under the truck and then lay on the horn 
so they snapped into the metal. I told her 
I’d try the meat but was afraid of swallowing 
a small bone. I’m used to swallowing a small bone, 
she joked. I laughed and kept laughing 
until she told me she had a story. One time 
when she was younger and still listened 
to her father, he taught her a lesson. 
When she was passed out drunk, he woke her
and told her she was no longer a good 
human being. He took her away to a farmhouse 
next to a farm that grew almonds. 
There was a bed and he unmade it 
and then told her to make it. He loosened 
the floorboards and she pounded in 
the nails before he loosened them again. 
There is a system for how mercy drifts 
into integrity. Those were his words, she said. 
There was ash on the dashboard and I rubbed it.
I passed to her the last hit, which she breathed. 
She breathed in and sucked an ember 
into her throat. Her father, she loved him. 
She loved her father. He was a hard man.

Posted 07/05/16
Originally appeared in Pleiades, Volume 36, Number 2
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