The new mystery arrived at midnight
and so the boy swished it like wine between his teeth.
I feel now like I have a purpose, the boy said,
and his audience acknowledged that they understood
and began to cheer as if watching a rabbit untangle itself
from a poorly set trap. Dawn came and the mystery remained.
Soon, the boy said, I will have for you a proposition.
How will we know, asked his audience, that your proposition is
in proportion to your purpose. You will know, said the boy,
by how many rabbits you find waiting tonight in the woods.
If tonight is a night of rabbits, you will see them in
proportion to the trees. And if the rabbits are proportional,
said the audience, we’ll understand the proportions
of your proposition. Yes, said the boy. The audience
dispersed. They went to go wait for the rabbits.
The boy decided he would attend to his new mystery.
Daylight passed and in the twilight the boy experienced
a twitching on the edge of the trees. He called out to his audience
but no one responded. He kicked the ground
and the twitching only continued to grow more frantic.
The boy decided he would make a proposition to god,
though he knew it would be without purpose, and suddenly
he understood how surrounded he was.
Copyright © 2011 by David Welch. “The Audience” originally appeared in New Orleans Review. Used with permission of the author.