Deanie Vallone

Animal Kingdom

Deanie Vallone

I bring the young rabbit to him, showing
its legs, chewed right off by its siblings—rivalry

they call it. Pecking order, hierarchies, there’s
always a name. Makes it worse, in a way, when

he takes it in his palm like a bean bag, the bones,
the organs, as unsettled as legumes, do it fast,

he says. There are two options. Hard edge, a table
or counter top, right at the neck, or this—

the beans shift inside, I can hear them, whap
on concrete, and I watch and nothing registers,

not a rabbit, nothing, a sack of stuffing, seeds,
eyes not even open yet, why does that make it better?

He does it again, just to be sure.
Animals can be cruel, he says, you’ll have to

be able to do this yourself one day, if necessary.
There’s rain in heavy clouds above us, and his eyes

look ringed in black like a fox’s, and the concrete,
it doesn’t even have a stain, and neither

do I, somehow, there isn’t even
the smell of salt or iron or spring in the air.

DEANIE VALLONE recently received a second BA in English literature from the University of Cambridge in England. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in The Wisconsin Review, Prick of the Spindle, Clare Literary Journal, and The Independent. Currently she works in education at Milwaukee Repertory Theater and freelances as a production dramaturg at theaters across the city. In her free time, she trains birds of prey at a local nature center.