Skip to content →

The Vast Economies

What is the point of money? said the leopards

at work on the still quivering gazelle.

The gazelle looked at the sky, as if contemplating

the afterlife. Then it closed its eye.

All its verdant afternoons among the foliage

were not even memories anymore. Zero.

What is the point of a salary?

The camera crew, hiding in the tall grass,

recorded the scene. First there was one leopard,

then there were two. When the meat

stopped shuddering, the leopards left,

and three jackals, skulking by the waterhole,

ate next. What is the point of currency?

Zero point. Then came spotted hyenas,

white-backed buzzards, pincered water beetles.

The camera crew sat in the tall grass

eating sandwiches. They’d had a good day’s work,

for which they’d be well paid.

The leopards circled them hungrily.

There are, the leopards said, economies

greater than those you think you know.

A camera remembers everything

you tell it to remember, but it has no

ideas. Now, it recorded the gazelle’s bones,

mostly stripped of gore. The camera crew

packed away their equipment. The leopards

watched them closely. The gazelle

had zero left to spend.

from The Art of FictionFind more by Kevin Prufer at the library

Copyright © 2021 Kevin Prufer
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Kevin Prufer Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.