Trickster tales themselves are tricky; their seriousness is hidden and often overlooked.
~Trudier Harris, “The Trickster in African American Literature,” University of North Carolina
We let her roam about.
She never wandered past the earth.
Dug shady holes in which to rest
From summer heat.
Come dusk, I laughed
As he chased her in a stuttered dance.
Big black man. Fat grey bunny.
Catching her came easier to me.
We fed her pellets, carrots, wilted lettuce.
Thoughtful family economist,
He planned to one day breed her
For cost-effective meat, flavorful and lean.
Resigned, preparing, I once dreamed
He broke a rabbit’s neck, his own neck
Tenderly inclined, while standing in the sea.
Young chickens loved to taunt
And bully her with bobbing beaks,
Lay eggs in the yawning hutch
While she was out. She handled hens
With expert dart and speed.
Once I caught her nose-to-nose
With a wild hare.
Would you like to call him Brer?
We watched them trade full chase
In wide, shifting spirals.
The rancher warned, was right:
Bunny caught Brer’s fleas.
I treated her with powder,
Caged her for over a week.
Finally flea-free, lonely,
On her last release, at dusk
I searched her usual haunts.
Pile of siding. Propane tank.
Nose twitching, Brer Hare stared at me.
The black man, unsurprised,
Shrugged, his mouth set in sympathy.
Raccoon must’ve carried her off.
We lived a few more weeks.
Sometimes, I thought I caught her
On the breeze.
Yesterday, he found her near the hives
Where weeds are tall as men.
Rich puddle of grey fur
Like cattail down set free,
Vibrating with black crawling beneath.
The only signs of architecture:
One leg bone, bare, pointing at sky.
Spinal column, clean, disembodied
As though hand-laid
By the writhing, silken pelt.
No head to speak of.
I used to kiss her cheek.
(Is it too much to add, to say?):
Today I found Brer Hare
Freshly dead on the edge
Of our drive, hit and thrown
Off the county road
He was bold enough to dare.
Join me, will you, while I try
Not to make a mess, not to cry
Not to make this story mine
Nor metaphorically align
People are not hares.