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  • Differentia
  • Lidia Yuknavitch

Women and slaves belonged to the same category and were hidden away not only because they were somebody else's property but because their life was “laborious,” devoted to bodily functions.

Hannah Arendt

I talk to myself. When you are out of the room of the world, things speak to one another. Probably they leave you out of the talk altogether when you leave the room. There is truth in that, or something like it, something too small to know. There is a species of logic resting in the space between molecules of air, between white and white, little extraordinary happenings, little meanings between words. There is something obscene about our boxing it all in--conversations, the page, the frame, the caught expression. That is why pictures make you ashamed, that is why movies swallow you up. I know I am babbling. I am only telling you this because I had a premonition about this story. I saw, not unlike a nightmare, what would happen so clearly, so perfectly, I could have touched the facts of it with my tongue. So I guess this is all really like talking to oneself.

What I am talking about now is an image, a single, cannibalized image. I say cannibalized because that is what we did. One image, three writers, three texts, three mouths, three murders committed among species of intellect. We saw something and we did what writers do, we wrote. The problem is that I am stuck and they are not; that is, the two men I know have moved on all right. The air has again filled their lungs, their words are their words, their groins quiver as before, their hands are recognizable to them, they move as if motion were not a series of stilted, jerky, pornographic moves.

It is me that is paralyzed.

I am an intelligent woman. I look for things between seeing and saying, I try to catch them, write them down. But something happened between what I saw and what I wrote. I mean, usually I can take an image right to paper, give or take a day or two, I can bend whatever it is I am feeling toward metaphor and flight. But something different happened to me with this one. There is no other way to do this. I will put you at the scene:

it was from our car driving along a freeway that we saw it. Me and my lover. Two dead horses on the road's shoulder, precisely paralleled in all respects--their brown horse bodies at the same angle, their horse heads and noses pointing at some invisible object long gone and unimaginable, the last thing they saw, sky maybe, because that's all you can see in their too-open dead eyes, their paired gray entrails winding like twin slithers out of the slit and gashed bellies, insides ripped out or spilled on the road, saliva, and again their eyes, unbearably open.

And then the car was past them, our eyes rolling back toward the past and the brain, our breath sucked back into our lungs through our mouths in a gasp, our mouths, unguarded, animal-like, open, tongues lolling, our minds pressed back and in as if by wind. It was not the same as slowing for an accident. With that you know, as all the other cars slowing know, that you are hoping to see carnage, you are hoping to see signs of wrecked bodies. But when you get there it is almost always just smashed-up cars, isn't it. And don't our hearts sink a little as we speed back up, weren't we wishing for something overwhelming?

We could have seen a dead dog, a dismembered deer, a flattened raccoon or mangled cat, anonymous guts even; any one of these would have passed as normal. But not these, looking to us as if they had been deposited from the horse trailer by some expert psychopathic movie director: in scene one they are two beautiful brown velvet asses and black silken tails exposed from within the vehicle meant to transport animals on the move. In the second scene they have...

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