How to Grow a Rabbit

A wildness grew in us: clover flower just beginning to purple inside our lungs. 
A tickle at the back of our throat, a minor irritation. Then we coughed – handfuls

of grass, dense, macerated, smelling of saliva and soil and fear. Two days later, 
a thousand small umbrella mushrooms opened along the lining of our heart. 

Coneflowers and swamp iris bloomed from our ears, moss lining our tongue. Snails
gathered in our long morning shadow and painted our limbs with sleek shining paths. 

When we felt the blossom of a new heat in our belly we were not afraid. We curled 
inward, breathed deeply. The first try was a failure of structure, heart sounding 

outside the ribcage. We burned the fragile body in a fire at midnight; when the rain 
arrived at dawn it was a deep, cleansing sigh. The second night no luck at all, hours 

of heavy breath producing nothing. The third night was stillbirth. It went on like this 
unendingly, untying a complicated knot of fur and muscle wound around bone. 

If the universe felt a shift she did not show it. We passed months, years in this dream, 
nightly attempting to change this ancient equation. What compels a body to move? 

We built fire after fire, blessing each one with a fistful of wildflowers, a song, a desire 
to create a thing we could call our own. What compels a body to stop?


Luxury Bones

A boy of seven has a swollen jaw. Warm to touch, 
tender, he thinks a small spider has burrowed deep 

into his gum and spun a dark web with a white egg 
sac suspended from it. At night he dreams of the sac 

exploding, millions of tiny bodies bursting into motion 
and spilling out from between his lips. He wakes wiping 

his mouth with the back of his hands, face wet 
and cotton-mouthed. When the skin along his jaw 

begins to redden he complains of soreness, wants 
to eat only things that need not be chewed. A team 

of doctors wheels him into a bright room with a large 
machine, covers him with leaded blankets and begins 

to photograph the inside of his mouth. He is afraid 
to see the spider living there, afraid too this machine

might kill it. Imagine the complex fabric of terror 
and sadness weaving itself around his heart: how 

long do we live with that which frightens us? Perhaps 
so long we begin to think we cannot live without it.

What happens next is no less fantastic: yes, a sac, 
but full of teeth. The luxury of it all, so many teeth 

erupting like a volcano of pearls from the deep 
and mysterious caverns of this small boy’s body. 

Rachel Bunting lives and writes in southern New Jersey, between the Delaware River and the Pine Barrens. Her poems have appeared in journals included Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Muzzle Magazine, and The Nervous Breakdown. In the summer you can find Rachel cleaning up after raccoons and skunks at a local wildlife refuge; in the winter you can find her practicing the ancient Danish art of hygge.

Rachel’s work previously appeared in December 2013, January 2014, and February 2014.

Untitled Stephanie Phillips    Stirring, vol. 16 (3), 2014

Stephanie Phillips
Stirring, vol. 16 (3), 2014