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Flinch by Dipanjali Singh

Art by Adolf Arthur Dehn

i watch men watch another man being beaten to death. It's in a video, traced from life- the mundane days of mundane times, calling for repulsive entertainment- a dog on a choking lease, jumping while we imagine a smile. The wrist that lifts the stick falls limp after the blow- The body, tired, of itself. Yet screaming and stabbing and stomping and shouting- a singsong tone, a twinkling eye, Is that a tear I spy? A splendid sacrifice! The men surround the pool of blood and watch, their faceless forms reflecting. Even the reflection refuses to stay, shifting its edges with every blast of wind. It's a cheap matinée, a slow striptease, a scene of crime, shoddily staged (I hear they know that we don't), a sunday bazaar in sweaty June, the buzz of flies in a loud, confusing movie scene aired on TV or the static after. I think it's the static after. The actors collect the spilled guts, wipe off the beating red from their hands and hearts, and bow- the anticipation of applause. the men i watch watching, neither clap nor blink. they leave, Unmoved. I flinch, not grudging the men their deadly calm.


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