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From a manuscript in progress. Carson’s collection of performance pieces Float was published by Knopf in 2016.

The aunts sit along the wall in their narrow stone chairs that smell of stone polish, lemony and cold, with overtop a layer of something like celery, the aunts themselves. They sit upright, tails curled around their feet. Aunt Rob always spoke first. She had a carrying voice. Her s’s slid softly down the air. Animals differ in violence, she began. This is not a mere wrinkle, as some persist in believing, it is key to our way of life here. There was a sudden rutting smell. A lion ran sideways down the hall. The lions liked to do this sometimes, friezelike, a sort of hermeneutic dash, body sloping forward, head turned, to sense the mood in the den. The lions are racist, nervy. They think everything south of Paris is Arab, everything east of Poland is Chinese. Towel off before you come in here, said Aunt Rob crossly.

The aunts run the den. Foxes are pretty animals. They enjoy being pretty animals. This creates a poise that is easily mistaken for judicial distance. But does it really matter who makes the decisions? As long as somebody does. Community can be such a mush. Let’s get this show on the road, Aunt Rob called out, time only moves in one direction! Actually that’s not true, said a small fox at the back of the den, adjusting his spectacles. Shut up, Young Tennyson, it’s just a manner of speaking, said Aunt Rob. Now where’s the witness? Can somebody
bring in the witness?

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