Asleep in the back room, I feel the boar enter the kitchen. The front door creaks long; the sound betrays her; she thrusts her snout at its base. Her bulk is grey, brown, blue fading to black. The dark mass of night beyond the door presses her into the house. The paint on the front door is white and it peels as she enters. The door thuds against her body.
The kitchen lights, ordinarily warm, weaken in her presence. She lumbers — scuttles — heaves across the hardwood; her body makes it impossible to discern whether she changes position by the motion of legs so short they are hidden by her thick coat or if she is propelled instead by the sharp and wet grunts she emits through her throat. The floor’s varnish bubbles in her wake. The sound carries her from the threshold.
She turns and the flat of her nose finds the baseboards of the front wall. They too were white before her arrival. The boar’s tusks are thick browned ivory, flecked with splatter, muck or rotten flesh. The ivory stubs are uneven, dull, no less deadly because of it. As she moves, her tusks near the floor; from them emanates a clutter of dust, dirt, broken hair and fraying moth wings, wet with her snot, clotted in urine. Where her snout meets the floor—a constantly moving point—muck emerges, gathers, accumulates; it shifts and stirs, accumulates at the baseboards. Filth aggregates in her presence. She is not its harbinger. It was always there. She is simply its logic, its point of orientation.
Between peeling white walls, the once-calming kitchen light shines amber on a patch of her hair. The strands of her coat are straggling, uneven. Each hair frays as it nears the floor, shining nearly wet as the muck reveals itself in her wake. Dry leaves dampen at the edge of her splintering hooves.
From the muck her children take shape, blue-black bruises whose voices pitch higher than hers; they clamber beneath her feet, her mass, her fur. Their small figures, necrotic shapes, blur into the bubbling varnish. She is a mother in the most painful sense of the word; her throaty grunts pass over their ebbing forms; she lumbers too near; she does not acknowledge them, seven or twelve, a litter. She proceeds, nearing the hallway; her mass moves over them. Injured, the piglets turn purple. They are pealing.
Her motor, her sharp groans, are kinetic and unceasing. Muck turns to murk in her wake. Behind her, the door rests its latch against the doorframe, leaving a small and dirty space for the night to leak in. The darkness that pushed her through the doorway follows her to fill the room. The dark crowds the cabinet doors, the stove top, laps at the dining room door, the hallway; the dark does not shimmer, does not deepen, swallows every red, draws grays and blues, dim browns into the center of the room. Cast iron pans on the stovetop fill with greasy remains while their metal handles dry, rust, splinter. The hair of a deceased pet wafts down from the corners of the ceiling, litters the concrete-composite countertops, mixes with cooking grease. The fruit, oranges and bananas, become overripe in her presence. The smell of rot extends her time there.
But the sweet smell of browned bananas is auxiliary to the boar’s path. Between the blood blackened ankles of her children and her bristling mane accrues an acrid stench. Her smell is deep like musk, like a sweating masculine form, the bite of lemon-scented cleaning liquid, the graying decay of a cat’s skull left in a gutter. Her smell is not simply that of death, because —
The last remnants of the oven light catch across the surface of her eyes. They are the translucent brown-green of a sick and brackish creek; glaucoma, milky if they still contained any white. Her iris, which might once have been coffee brown, disintegrated a lifetime ago. There is no clarity, no lucidity, left to be found beneath the glassy green surface of her eye. She has no gaze, only tertiary and muted awareness. The boar has not occasioned the end of life; she is life that goes on living without purpose. She is flesh that lives on without feeling, without sensation, without sense. In the dark, down the hallway, she nears me.