True Histories of the Animal Kingdom, or, Animals I know nothing about

by Kasia Juno

Kasia Juno’s fiction, poetry, and comics can be found in The RumpusMaisonneuve MagazineThe Best Canadian Poetry Anthology (2015)GUTS: Canadian Feminist Magazine, the Minola Reviewand SAND: Berlin’s English Literary Journal. In 2016, she was long-listed for the CBC short story award. Kasia lives in Montreal, where she is pursuing a PhD at McGill University. Find her at www.kasiajuno.weebly.com or https://www.mcgill.ca/english/staff/kasia-van-schaik

 

1.

The wolverine is the psychopath of the animal kingdom. Dismantling the carcass of a deer his eyes say yes. Who can love him? More bear than wolf, he wanders the porcelain caves of winter. Who can know him? His tongue is a small pink measuring tape with which he charts the forest. He listens with his tongue, licking the shells of beetles. With renewed energy he laps at the concave of a frozen lake.

2.

The world’s oldest cave is 40 kilometers west of Johannesburg and filled with wild bees. In the 80’s an explorer went looking for Man’s First Footprint there. Up until then, the oldest fossil found belonged to a middle-aged female. In the caves the temperature is always 20 degrees. The explorer put on his diving suit and entered the sulfuric underground lakes alone. He never returned. The search party did not hear the tapping, discreet but persistent, on the cave wall the day they decided to give up.

3.

In the middle of the flanks of women lies the womb, a female viscus, closely resembling an animal. It wanders the body moth-like, fluttering obliquely to the left, to the right, then in a direct line to the thorax. It delights in fragrant smells and advances towards them. It despises fetid smells and flees from them, dipping too close to the heart, which hangs like a light bulb in the center of the ribcage. The flare of the womb-moth lights up the body. It lights up the blood like a room after a party, revealing guests sleeping in their shoes. The smell of scorched moth wings creates a strong desire for idleness.

4.

I once passed a wolf sanctuary near my aunt’s house on the west coast. She lives with a builder. They sleep naked every night, holding hands. She is the only person in my family who is happy. Shall we stop to see the wolves, she asked me, slowing down. The driveway to the sanctuary was long and green, but we didn’t stop. Life continued on in broad daylight. I imagined the wolves resting behind the fence, in the diamond shadows of the fence, their every movement attuned to its limit.

5.

Jellyfish are not true fish. They swarm and bloom, floating across vast fields of ocean grass. They always stick together. Their eyes, suspended on stalks, are oriented skyward, towards the surface, towards the open lagoon. It is rumoured that they will inherit the earth.

Spools of life – decreasing.
Spools of memory – increasing.

 

 


Kasia Juno’s fiction, poetry, and comics can be found in The RumpusMaisonneuve MagazineThe Best Canadian Poetry Anthology (2015)GUTS: Canadian Feminist Magazine, the Minola Reviewand SAND: Berlin’s English Literary Journal. In 2016, she was long-listed for the CBC short story award. Kasia lives in Montreal, where she is pursuing a PhD at McGill University. Find her at www.kasiajuno.weebly.com or https://www.mcgill.ca/english/staff/kasia-van-schaik

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