Craig Tepper
black vertical in a field of white. A bare tree, a lone sapling, trembles. Gusts shred the silence. Far beyond, a smudge -- a small, dark stand -- a blurred mote, trees and buildings between sky and horizon.

The quiet crush of snow. Footprints track. The icy impress of boots of woven leather. A pale clapboard shed with peaked roof. Its door opened.

Inside dark. The frantic pad and thump of a thing restrained. Storm shutters widen, open in. Light spreads. A thick wood workbench. Heavy gloves removed, laid on its pocked, gashed surface. A blackout sheet tents the unseen on a table facing the window. The view out, a field of white, interrupted by four black bars. The distant sapling framed by the bars.

The man removes the sheet. Beneath it, struggling stops. White rabbit, head in a stainless steel collar. Frozen by light. Rabbit eye contracts. A flashing glint, silver falling through shadows. On the table, the rabbit head topples forward. Topples over, flat in a glass catch tray. Blood gushes after and quickly slows to a trickle. A soft fringe of hair, the outline of the rabbit ear, fills in with dark liquid.

he rabbit eyeball between the points of a tweezer, the optic nerve wetly trails. It’s set beside its mate, like two jellyfish, in a petri dish. The dish is moved down the workbench and set beside another filled with white powder.

A tiny scalpel slowly slices an eye. Slit, the half-eye dangles. Pupil-half falls. The retinal disc held between pincers is gently placed in a milky solution beside another. Two retinal discs, oriental tea cups, soak as the shutters are closed. Dark.

he workbench. A microscope. The tweezer clasps the edge of a retinal disc. Scalpel. Sheers a thin segmental slice. A tiny moon of retina with a dark residue. Wet. Slipped on a glass slide. Human eyes engage the diopters. Grey image clarifies. The slice of retinal disc contains an image, a residue of rhodopsin, “visual purple”-- four black bars on white.

The man turns to the open shutters. The window out. Four black bars, the same, in a field of white. In the distance, the sapling. A black vertical trembles, the silence pocked by wind.



In Posse: Potentially, might be ...