May 2016 - Comments Off

Sylvia Madaras

On Violence

I put the Windex in the water I put the pepper in the cookies and it was not poisonous but I thought I’d killed my sister. My father said: When Sue told me, it was like hearing that you’d put a gun up to her head. I was eight years old. I said: I tied the bear up and set the dogs loose I hit my sister when she called me stupid I bit the boy next door when he wouldn’t play legos because he said I couldn’t make a good enough spaceship. I hit the pillow against the wall when the principal was a sexist asshole I got cold when you tried to hug me I walked away when you were eighteen I never spoke to you again I always let somebody else shoot the chickens when they had been torn up by foxes or raccoons from the night before (they usually came a bit before dawn). When the duck broke its leg, my father broke its neck, boiled and plucked it raw to give to the neighbors for cooking. You can’t make a cast for a duck, my mother told me. You have to end its misery. You have to be the responsible one.

I killed a spider once, I drove a herd of calves onto the trailer and rode them to the butcher. We had named them, and then we fed them and then we held them every day. Simon had just begun to trust me.

Who has the right to torture? Who has the right to conduct night raids, strip searches, waterboarding, who kills the duck to feed me dinner who shoots the man who might have shot me first? Is it violent for a lion to kill an antelope? Is it violent for a lion to kill a lion? Is it violent for a woman to kill a lion? Is it violent for a woman to kill a woman? Is it violent that I hit my sister and bit my friend, is it violent that I put Windex in the water, is it violent that I pay taxes?

I shot the duck I hit the girl I walked away I tied up the innocent I ate the meat I drank the milk I drove the calves I drove the truck I held the knife I cut their throats who will cut mine? I hit the spider with a book and wiped the book off with a paper and threw the paper in the trash. Who tortures the inmates in far-off prisons? I am not my money. Somebody else does it somebody else will go to hell for me, I’m clean I’m clean and my hands are in water and my soul is in water and my money is yours, my money is not me my money means nothing to me I can pay for something and then it isn’t mine.

I buy the torture of foreign men and women. I buy it and take it home to my father. Dad, I say, just look what I’ve done. I killed the duck this time. I held him underwater and he told me the truth. He was crying, that’s how I knew it was true. He would say anything to leave that room, so I shot him dead and brought him home for you. Preheat the stove. We can invite the neighbors to dinner tonight.

There's a Bull in My Kitchen

There is a bull who lives in my house. He is gentle and majestic, and coal-colored with an olivey sheen to his coat. His shoulders make it hard for him to fit through doors. Sometimes I worry he’ll kill me in his sleep, his horns are just so long. Sometimes he tries to turn around around and then breaks the china with his tail. Sometimes I bring him to bed with me, and sometimes he fits better in the kitchen.

Published by: in Issue 2: Spring 2016, Prose, Volume 72

Comments are closed.