The Heart of a Rabbit
The farmer traded a wheel of cheese for a skinny rabbit with bloodshot eyes. All winter it huddled in a small hutch in the kitchen. Neither the farmer nor his wife had heard about the epoch of reincarnation. Neither knew that the fox raiding the chicken coop was their son killed in the war, or that the mouse leaving a Cyrillic of shit on the clean sheets was the damned poet Mandelstam. Neither knew that the white rabbit they were fattening up on sweet potatoes and clotted cream was Stalin himself. “The heart of a rabbit is a dark forest,” the farmer read one night in an old almanac, in a chapter on the secrets of haruspicy. He looked up from the book and studied his wife standing over the cage, clutching a stack of yellowed index cards. Lapin a la moutarde. Civet de lapin. Lapin a la cocotte. She cooed each recipe like a lullaby, and the rabbit stared up at her, its pink nose twitching its invectives.