How are we not talking about the corpses? It’s not like you haven’t seen them – you can’t miss them. When I take the kids out, I see them constantly. Every minute another one, battered or slumped or swollen with gas or smashed apart or flattened. Large and small, old and young. When I’m looking at them, there are another 20 or 30 people also passing, hundreds or thousands ever hour. But it really does feel like I am the only one looking.
Every time I see one, I shout to my kids in the back. My boy, he’s on the wrong side, but my girl, she lifts herself and strains to see. She only gets glimpses though. She’s sensitive but at speed, all she’ll get is a blurred impression.
If we’re stopped, I can spend some time looking – but I don’t. I snatch looks out of the corner of my vision, seeing a glassy or hollow crow-eaten eye, a stain that could be blood, torn skin and spilled innards.
There’s only so much horror the mind can take and seeing one just-like-us, just broken and empty and spoiled is not something I have got used to yet. There is a point of numbness that those who work with the dead reach that I don’t want to be at – I want to be this turning point, between ignorance and numbness, between horror and familiarity. I want to know the dead, to witness them, to acknowledge that this is where we are all going – you, myself, the kids in the back.
To be clear, I’m talking about ‘roadkill’. And sure, they’re just animals, but look at the inherent horror in that ‘just’. They are hungry, forced to cross our motorways, these strips of screaming death that are alien, out-of-the-world to them, like the angled impossibilities of Ry’leh. They can’t prepare themselves for it, however familiar they grow, however smart they are – witness, next to the swollen vulpes lies the flattened corvid, the smart crow that thought they knew better than the foolish fox.
And the world just drives on. We make no arrangements to collect the bodies, to clean them up, but we don’t need to. Our eyes are open to this, we know that our comfort means that these creatures – with parents and children – suffer and die for the basics of living and are killed by us – actively by us, our cars knocking their bodies away, crushing them them. And then we just don’t see them. So why would we clear them up?
I am trying to drive away from Omelos but all roads lead to Omelos.
Photo by Jon Butterworth on Unsplash
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