Amber Tran

Animal

It started with the drought of 1999.
Dead brown. Dehydration. Decaying cattle sprinkled along the hills.
Cicada carcasses filled the rusted gutters, little shells, plastic oil wings.
I brought the summer to my sister that year.
Her window sill received daily gifts of life, death, the interests of a child, a guilty sibling.
She didn’t like rotting flesh of blackberries from the roadside.
Her favorites were the jaundiced buttercups with the sour smell.
Flowers from the guts of a rotting whitetail deer.
The month after that, rain. Mud. Sand from the nearest creek bed. A tadpole out of water.
A morning of dew, a crumbling newspaper molded into the shape of Pennsylvania.
The womb of a rabbit, still warm, still beating, empty.
When the summer ended, she pushed everything out of her window.
Bones. Soil with her fingerprints. The ear of a mammal.
I told her I would be back in nine months.
“I’ll be here.” She fell asleep in her box.

Amber D. Tran graduated from West Virginia University in 2012, where she specialized in lyrical nonfiction and contemporary poetry. Her first novel, Moon River, was released in September. Her work has been featured in Calliope, Sonic Boom Journal, Spry Literary Journal, and more. She currently lives in Alabama with her husband and miniature dachshund named Ahri.