August 5, 2008 The Arsenal, Central Park, New York City From the Academy Audio Archive
Dear Lonely Animal,
I'm writing to you from the loneliest, most secluded island in the world. I mean, the farthest away place from anything else. There are so many fruits here growing on trees or on vines that wrap and wrap. Fruits like I've never seen except the bananas. All night the abandoned dogs howled. I wonder if one dog gives the first howl, and if they take turns who's first like carrying the flag in school. Carrying the flag way out in front and the others following along behind in two long lines, pairs holding hands. Also the roosters here crow from 4am onward. They're still crowing right now and it's almost noon here on the island. Noon stares back no matter where you are. Today I'm going to hike to the extinct volcano and balance on the rim of the crater. Yesterday a gust almost blew me inside. I heard that the black widows live inside the volcano far down below in the high grasses that you can't see from the rim. Well, I was going to tell you that this morning the bells rang and I followed them and at the source of the bells, there I found so many animals all gathered together in a room with carved wooden statues and wooden benches and low wooden slats for kneeling. And the animals were there singing together, all their voices singing, with big strong voices rising from even the filthiest animals. I mean, I've seen animals come together and sing before, except in high fancy vaults where bits of colored glass are pieced together into stories. Some days I want to sing with them. I wish more animals sang together all the time. But then I can't sing sometimes because I think of the news that happens when the animals stop singing. And then I think of all the medications and their side effects that are advertised between the pieces of news. And then I think of all the money the drug companies spent to videotape their photogenic, well-groomed animals, and all the money they spent to buy a prime-time spot, and I think, what money buys the news, and what news creates the drugs, and what drugs control the animals, and I get so choked I can't sing anymore, Lonely Animal. I can't sing with the other animals. Because it's hard to know what an animal will do when it stops singing. It's complicated, you know, it's just complicated—
From Spring, published by University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 2008 by Oni Buchanan. Used with permission.