If blood comes up my mouth with my jaw wired shut, I will drown in it. Drown in too much self. My face takes the coerced form of not-vomiting. I swallow, smelling the soreness in my throat. I practice swallowing. See the water turning red. Mouth filling with it. Swallow it back down. Swallow it raw.
But animals are sentient before they are food, a reversal of order. Our government has recently decided that some animals should be allowed to turn around and spread their wings. There’s nothing to worry about anymore. In my own state, the people have spoken up, the law has come down. I am surprised by the buzzing mud and lack of green pastures. The aggressiveness of dirty animals in the blazed day. I have to keep. Gulping it down. I offer the little farm girl a feather from the ground. She doesn’t answer—I am disappointed—she doesn’t play with the feather, or pocket it, she doesn’t put it in her voice. She won’t reach for the offering. In a moment of perfect intelligence, she says “germs!” and runs away.