M:

My mother used to yell now …Make your bed now, pack your backpack now, now, don’t procrastinate. But I do. Every action belongs to tomorrow. Leaving the lemur’s tree belongs to tomorrow. To return to the world means I will have to let go of my mother’s hand (Michaela’s mother: Michaela, I am putting my hand out here. Can you take it? It’s as easy as taking my hand.) The pain will be great and I will die almost immediately. But if I can put it off…if my return can belong infinitely to tomorrow…

There was a spot on the side of our road that the kids said was haunted. They said long ago a woman had been pinned to the oak tree by a buck. The buck had bitten her at the throat but the buck’s jaw had locked, and it could not relax its bite. And the woman could still talk. She could sing. She sang to her children who had been out walking with her when the buck attacked. An old folk song, from when animals were benign. Her children loved the song, though it was dangerous for a mother to sing a song like that. What if her children should think it safe to approach a fawn with their hands out… Safe to pet the speckles of white in its pre-molt fur… (Michaela’s mother: It’s time to sleep, little deer, little deer. The very last kiss is almost here.) The buck’s jaw was connected to her neck and her hair was stuck in the tines in its rack but she sang. The police came, they called a rescue, the rescue came and they shook their heads… To remove the buck would mean the woman would die immediately. To let the buck remain would mean the woman would die slowly. The latter was what the woman wanted, so she stayed there, the buck’s jaw at her throat, her hair in its rack, the children still holding her hands, and she singing. And they are all still there. They have never left. You can’t see them anymore but you can hear them… The buck grunting, stuck in the joy of the kill… the mother infinitely procrastinating her death by singing those same two lines… and her children must love it… they must think it a game… Of course, because they live in this moment of joy, they will never know how happy they have been.

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