Dream of the Dun-Colored Horse

 

Raskolnikov worked one summer on mosquito

abatement. This was before St. Petersburg,

the pawnbroker, Sonya. All day he rode in a truck

through the Cleveland suburb and looked

for standing water: drainage ditches, low-lying fields,

clogged drains, abandoned cisterns, tires.

And at the end of the day he would sit

at the dining room table with his parents and sister

and marvel at how exhausted you could feel

at seventeen, as though the hours searching

for insect larvae had turned him into an old man,

or he would turn up his music in his room until

the only thing that existed in the universe

was sound. One night he had a terrible dream

that a dun-colored horse was being bled to death

by a great swarm of mosquitoes, and for days

afterwards—while he rode through the neighborhoods

spraying pyrethroid mists on lawns, stray dogs,

and childre—-he couldn't help thinking

about that horse having its blood sucked

from its dying body in a dream, that poor horse

struggling against all the tiny beating wings

of the mosquitoes, as though everything you might

have hoped for from a life might be carried

away from you one drop at a time.

 

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