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Monday, December 05, 2005


by Rochelle Ratner

Hermann Goering stops and looks around him. It's 1934.
He realizes, as if for the first time, how easy it might be to
manipulate animals. Crops can be tricked to spawn perfect
seeds. On impulse, he imports raccoons from North
America. Little masked bandits, their eye sockets almost
like swastikas. He expects them to enrich the local wildlife.
He doesn't understand how quickly they'll multiply, how
they'll eat the very crops he hoped they'd nourish. Sixty
years from now they'll wipe out an entire grape harvest in
less than a week. Some blonde-haired farmers will curse
when they hear his name, others will spit, and some just
shake their heads. Raccoons in their attics and basements,
one was found beneath the toddler's bed. There must be
over a million running wild. Bounty hunters will kill 3,471
in a single year. Each locality will keep exacting records.

Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: