I Wanted the Attention of My Tribe

The last encounter I had with a woodchuck it bolted directly at me along the edge of a gully behind our blue cape, because I’d filled in all its nearby holes.

I froze, terrified it was going to leap into the air and leech through my chest like a huge drill, but it veered into the woods and was gone in a rustle of blueberry and sumac.

A few of us kids were always looking to trap something uncatchable in those woods, whether it was a woodchuck or a praying mantis or a giant tumbler-mouthed tapeworm living in the drainage pipe just below it, in the belly of the gully where we’d gather summer nights to breakdance and practice hitting cans with slingshots until our hands bled.

Just keep training and you’ll get there, I told myself, though what I was training for I was never really sure.

Looking back, I think I was just acting out some protective, hunter-like imperative meant to make me feel important and garner the attention and loyalty of my tribe. It didn’t matter who hurt us or tried to, or how many of his mother’s dried chilis one of the older kids used to make us younger ones eat like some initiation into manhood,

holes would be dug, stones would be collected from the side of the road, and underground bunkers would be dug adjacent to bike paths, all in preparation for the great revolt.

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