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Kate Schapira

from Yellow Slicker


A wildcat doesn’t love anyone weighted down with heavy drops. A little further into the bog, nobody’s doing anything for love. Mud blackens your vision: If you look ahead, is it a street or choked with leaves? Is it the way to get what you want?



To save a darling helpless creature and themselves, the toads and wood rats come up with a plan based on sameness, secrets, limited visibility and essential confusion. There’s a problem in the woods. Keep the secret slick, codelike, alert and closed, full of quicksand pools. The yellow like cake batter of satisfaction. That’s just what a deal means.



Who knows what negotiations operate at the bottom of the woods? Scratch a trader, find a slicker surface. Your job’s to pretend to be the sealed same but you’ve reached impasse, gates of beaten brass gone back into, heavy with assumed value and implied consent. Compare them to splint wrappings, stained and light.



We’d say “dead end” but a person is where you go no further. They may still be alive. They may leave prints. There’s no plan beyond them, no problem—why shouldn’t I be confounded, stopped at the gate with my bundles of greenery, why shouldn’t the gate be hung with swags of lace and plastic, looped-up cords, jumpropes and kettles. A person you want something from throws you into a panic you see standing under the sign that says they warned you.



Anthropomorphizing animals means they can recognize what moves them in the process of handing it over. My offer didn’t go beyond the end of the street, the pool of quicksand, where you present yourself wrapped in a yellow silence—how many of you are there? Is one of you the wildcat?  One of you takes a risk, one of you says, “Of course,” and that’s the trade.

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