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January 6, 2020 Fiction


Alyssa Quinn

duckrabbit photo

when encountering the duckrabbit one does not know what to say or where to look or how to comport oneself : the duckrabbit faces you and faces away from you : its beak is open and it has no beak : its ears are flattened and it has no ears : when the duckrabbit moves you are unsure how to describe the movement : does it go forward or backward : does it go forward and backward : yes : for a moment you look at the duckrabbit and you see only duck. the duck’s expression is playful and sly. it opens its mouth as if about to grin. then your focus shifts and you see rabbit. the rabbit is a little bit nervous. hesitant. its mouth is sealed, its posture stiff. then you try to see both at once : duckrabbit : you cannot : you focus on the beady black eye at its midpoint : but still you feel your own eyes sliding slightly left or right, your peripheries slipping into this or that, duck or rabbit, duck or rabbit, duck or rabbit. they are mutually dependent : they are mutually exclusive : all at once you intuit that the duckrabbit is going to speak to you and you shut your eyes. you cannot bear to see from which end language issues. the voice of the duckrabbit is like tinnitus : might be real : might be of your mind : might merely be the sound of silence when you listen hard enough : this tinnitus though has the heft of words : maybe : the duckrabbit says your stare is a hard stare : the duckrabbit says I am tired of such hard stares : the duckrabbit says go away go away. Perhaps the language issues from both ends : or perhaps neither : though neither is not a word the duckrabbit evokes : you cannot say, for instance, that it is neither a duck nor a rabbit : this would be untrue : it is both : but never both at once : but even so when you see only the duck. or only the rabbit. you retain still the knowledge of the duckrabbit : you remember still that what you see is incomplete : you are haunted by the knowledge of what you cannot see, cannot comprehend : of what is there but not there but always there but not right now : the duckrabbit says your eyes are harder closed than open : I feel your shut gaze hitting hard upon me : and now you clamp your hands over your ears. you are dark and silent. you are empty : or not quite empty : there are faint popping lights : yellowpink bursts of retinal memory : blooming and shrinking and blooming : also a ringing : rushing : underwater sound : tunnel sound : and you cannot have your hands over your ears because you have no hands : because you are not you : you are the duckrabbit. you are duck. you are rabbit. you are both but not at once but yes at once and above all never neither : so you are you : you are just also another you : and when you open your mouth to speak you are not sure which mouth it is : you are not sure in which version of your body you ought to dwell : or if dwelling is even an option : if rest : rest : rest : could be reached : and if one of you rests does the other : die. but your eyes : your eyes : the hinges that are your eyes : in this one place you pivot between selves : and your eyes, whether duck or rabbit or duckrabbit, exist on either side of your head : eyes of prey : the eyes of predators look forward, only at what is in front of them : at what is to be caught : what is to be killed : but your eyes see for three hundred and sixty degrees : facing away and facing forward have no meaning to begin with : you have always seen all things : all things : all things at once : and how can this be borne : and yet it is : you take it all in : and when you close your eyes : there is a ring of light remaining