As you five swell followers might know, I’ve been writing an essay about my childhood home that was burned down in a planned fire exercise when I was sixteen. A rabbit figures in the story. Here are a couple of excerpts.
After their pyrotechnic work was done, house gone, I returned to the remnants, stood on the ashes. Near where the shed had been, I found one of my small wool Steiff rabbits, intact, unscathed. A tiny symbol of the phantom limb of home–does keeping hold of stuff I had before the house disappeared stand in for a home? When I hold that rabbit in my hand, I feel something stable and secure, but that’s too simple.
Then later in the essay:
Now I hold the Steiff rabbit that didn’t burn. I imagine again walking across the charred land, finding the thing, the size of a cotton ball, where our garage had been. How hadn’t I packed it? How hadn’t it been torched? I want to touch, smell, hear, see, consume the moment of finding that rabbit.
So telling truth, I pin that rabbit to a velvet board, and into a new ghost story I shove the cute animal, twist rabbits against type, make them sinister, keep writing. Everything must be lit, and burn, then melt, transmogrify: everything must milk and then feed that famished ghost, memory.
At a fabulous Yellow Springs yard sale this morning, I found two Steiff rabbits, and bought the pair for a mere $7. It was like my recurring dreams of finding pieces of my childhood Steiff collection at antique stores and having to buy them back, but in reverse: this morning they were not my rabbits, and I was awake. Now they are on (the one clean corner of) my desk.
Just more evidence that things keep turning and turning, but won’t let us forget: carbon replaces itself, surprises us, and continues to haunt…