Ishita Basu Mallik lives in India, takes care of her parents, and tries to hang on to her day job. She is
reachable at low tide and firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be perfectly honest, I will say. I was friends with you because of the dog. Cat. Stolen baby turtle. Horse. Horse. Pony. Fullbodied. Fullthroated. Inconsolable.
Fingers leaking tea.
The crate I sit on is a slurry, a lifebelt. Calender overhead will take you to Amritsar, Madurai, Dilli, Benares, Thiruvananthapuram. You are six years old and crying, please no more temples. Your mother looks at your father. Embarrassment, riches.
The dog, the cat, the turtle, the horse, the pony: they roll over onto their backs. Their eyes droop, their teeth pull toward relief. No don’t do that to the turtle. At night she shapeshifts into a rock. I dream of paddling into the ocean, then something bites my ear.
The horse rolls over a cloudy mountaintop and falls all the way into my arms. It turns into a cat. This pure fuzzed muscle. This foreign sovereignty. I can walk around, if I have the papers? I flinch when your dog touches her head to my arm. So this is what the books meant?
Are you afraid? Are you afraid of her, you say.
Then, triumphant: You’re afraid of her!
It becomes difficult to explain.
Animals don’t exist to be wept into.