If I turn animal

Francine Witte


all fangy and hungernose, things might look up. The river wouldn’t look as dirty, carrying the sins of upstream, all shit and litter and leftover light from last night’s tired moon.

If I turn animal, stretch out long and lean, dig my paws, really plant them into the damp hungry soil, I might start to see the river again as quench and cool, surrender myself to its dark, unanswered question.

If I turn animal, tooth and claw my only words, then maybe the world starts to listen, maybe you start to listen. A tint of blood from a torn skin colors the water, and maybe the words of a million children start to flow into a million ears.

And maybe the river finally answers its question, the water going mudless for once,  and the hands of the children get filled but stay open and ready for more, and everywhere seeds plump up and burst, and the foot I’ve been limping on all day toughens up at the heel, steels up around the toes, the whole thing going hooflike, split and sure, and the mountain in front of me goes flat, like a father’s back when he leans down and tells his kid to climb on, and the river to my right goes gentle, lapping softly now like the tongue of an animal, an animal settling onto the floor of the forest happy, content after a kill.


Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks and two full-length collections, Café Crazy and The Theory of Flesh from Kelsay Books. Her flash fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologized in the most recent New Micro (W.W. Norton) Her novella-in-flash, The Way of the Wind was published by Ad Hoc Fiction, and her full-length collection of flash fiction, Dressed All Wrong for This was published by Blue Light Press. She lives in New York City.