Wien: Basically Animal Farm

by Elise Wien | 3/1/17 2:20am

Hello! Welcome to week eight. (Nine? Eight. Nine?)

It’s not that I have nothing to report from my room. It’s that a lot of the information is not of the nature that should be printed. When you live with people for four years, there is a proximity to their private lives that is at first unsettling, then comforting, then integrated, which is to say their private lives become so entangled with yours that you begin to take on parts of their personalities. When my roommates and I talk, dress or gesture like one another, we call this “leaking,” as though are bodies are closed vessels that are breaking open at the seams and contaminating one another. Gross, right?

It’s fitting, then, that this week’s theme is prohibition. Continuing the legacy of writers who have dodged censors and skirted obscenity laws through coded language, I’ll try my best to recount the past week using allegory. And animals.

An experiment:

A bluebird, a robin and a sparrow live in a nest.

The bluebird gets an anal fissure in a tragic accident involving a neighbor’s nest, a potential egg and a tryst in the basement of a redwood. Robin and sparrow fear infection. NASA announces new planets. Robin and sparrow make a bunch of Uranus jokes.

The birds drink nectar and go for a flight around the forest. They are not good at flying and they fall a bunch. They wake up with bruises, and one bird is late to her morning class with glitter on her face. The bird regrets nothing.

Three foxes live in a foxhole.

One fox finds the other fox’s fanfiction that she wrote in high school; the foxes sit in the foxhole reading it back to her. She buries down, down. The fox experiences true embarrassment for the first time in its two years of living.

Three sea sponges live in a coral reef.

One sea sponge hadn’t gotten any in a long time.

Three porcupines live in a tree.

Two go to get their needles removed. The needle-removing opossum does a poor job and the porcupines are sore. Also the opossum has a dog in the facility, which seems like a health code violation. The opossum likes to gossip.

Three snails live in one shell.

One snail finished her classes a term early and may be kicked out of the shell because of a dire shortage of on-leaf housing.

Three worms live in a patch of soil, and they’re all very tired.

They all have work to do, but they want to burrow down, down into the warm dark dirt and rest. Just for a moment.

Approximately 4,300 termites live in a fallen pine tree. They all have a cold.

Three bacteria live on a sponge.

One tries to think of what she’s feeling but she can’t identify an emotion outside of tired. Bacteria are working against a world hostile to them, or rather, 99.9 percent of them and the 0.01 percent is sad because everyone she knew and loved is dead.

Three rabbits live in a field and one of them is late, late, late.

Twenty-six trusty barnacles hang on to the side of a sinking ship.

Three shrimp live on the seafloor and two of them swim to Hawaii.

The allegory has slipped away, it seems, the allegory slips away.

Three ants live in an anthill, and one of them gets caught in a drop of molasses. Though she can carry 2,000 times her body weight, she finds herself moving slowly, slowly.

Three snakes live in a desert and their bellies never itch.

A mouse, a hamster and a gerbil live in a little hole in the wall. The hamster sends a regrettable text message.

Seven fireflies sit down to watch the Oscars and one breaks her spork eating Ben & Jerry’s directly from the pint.

Three spiders live in a web and one of them shows up with a massive hickey.

Three antelopes live together, but only one runs seven miles.

Three turtles live in a shell. It seems a horrible accident has taken place.

One turtle snores a little, so the other two make her wear Breathe-Rite strips while she rests.

They can hear what she says when she sleeps and it’s unsettling that they have more of an insight into her brain than she does. When it’s time for them to go to bed they pull into the shell and talk about the hare.

The carp stands at the door and wishes she had thumbs.