Diorama—Oradium Yellow and Black
In Georgia, RAs found a girl in the dorm bathroom, in bra and jeans, arms a blood-lacquer working above a half-skinned road-kill doe. Her cheeks had the blush of a consumptive and two leeches affixed to the deer’s loins found themselves hanging—one from a scarlet ear, the other from her compact and sweating neck. Prescribed for everything from obesity to nymphomania one- hundred-and-fifty years ago, Gogol was treated for anemia with six plump leeches clinched to his face. He pleaded to have them removed; they were hanging from his nose and slipping into his mouth. A man driving an empty highway bit his lip, decided to go—his first desire was to be a horse. And when his compact Ford hit the concrete barrier he was thrown through the windshield, skidding jean and flesh from his knees so that they were the skinned heads of sheep shining in the night, his left cheek ground to the pavement. Later, doctors placed maggots on the necrotic flesh of infected wounds and let a leech grow fat on his cauliflowered ear. Da Vinci was so mesmerized by the rippling of leeches propelling themselves through water—like Papal streamers in strong winds—that he sketched them in red chalk, trying to capture their motion (the fastest swimmers are the hungriest). On an Alaskan reservation a ten-year-old girl was drowned on the banks of a pond by a teen who’d been huffing gasoline— he thought he was riding a polar bear’s ghost to the sun; he wanted to beg it to stop shining so brightly. But it was night and leeches swam invisibly beneath her flared nostrils. The year of the doe was the year my roommate’s father pedalled a child’s bike down the middle of Highway Twenty through banks of snow, and sat down behind their horse-barn and let go—so that the soil there was reminded of a red fox that fell into fur and a mess of maggots, was reminded of Confederate Infantryman Abraham Hinson whose body was dragged, still flushed from a bog to that spot and left, covered in small black flags that wilted the man, and when fat on him dropped lazily away.