Jim Carter

Animals are the Magicians is an ongoing collection of interconnected short stories concerned with animal suffering and transcendence. Part fable, part love letter to the dead, the narrative unfolds through the experiences of Lindo, the red fox, and his encounters with man and landscape. The wild animal kingdom, barbarian and ambiguous, is presented as a primitive and beneficent grail with profound implications for the human condition as it lives in nature.

Animals are the Magicians
"Lindo saw periphery colour, as an almond encloses the body of each material thing or the animal in its fullness. The sacred was only the visible, this much he knew or began to sense in the flood that sought the lowest places. He had seen it once about the body of the vixen where she lay broken by the roadside: a ring of fire brighter than he had known but which, along with his sorrow, he did not then fully comprehend. He had licked and nudged the deep wound only for flames to shift and murmur out of shape. The fire remained for a time though her form diminished and he could see her no more, only the glowing ground and a smudge of colour."

Lips of Adam
"The fox breathed with strange lungs the night and its counsel. His river was spent, but the bird, unsated, struggled to rise from the mire, and she flailed as he gulped the receding water. There was a sound from afar of mens voices, and almost it seemed that the ebb in the fox had brought them to the bounds of the wood, and they too were enmeshed in crude alchemy. Animals do not miss the night unlike the man who only in sleep assays his bonds with their markings and makings. There is in his mind too much of the glare of false suns though the songs will work inside his chest to free him from the treacherous lights."

The Haruspex
"She sniffed the cool air and looked upwards. All her short years she had watched the white bird slide the vernal arches, and it had anointed her until she knew herself alive and apart on her own terms in a mongrel universe. Soon she would know sleep as the fruit of labour, but when she dropped her nose to the damp earth, the figure remained as a sigil in her minds eye, made from her own canon of proportions; and it seemed to her that the seraph disclosed, on this return and by this symbol, an intimate knowledge that had roamed the world with exclusivity, faithful to the sacred geometry of the animal body."

Night Magic
"Lindo lifted his nose to the wind that rattled the hawthorn twigs. He could smell the great sea behind all things that was to him always a presence unseen, explicit through absence. If once at the verge it should reveal itself to meagre lives, then perhaps, he thought, they would know their trials and labours interrupted, just as the chronicle of each man is marked by lights of kings and talismans. The wind came up from the valley, through the long tunnel formed by arching trees, and made for the night. He knew it was searching only for those spores that would ground the spring, just as the light that was birthed in the hollow had in old time sought the northern sky. It twinkled in the growing dark between the branches, and the fox could think of no service but to fill the broken dish upraised in good omen for his kind. "

The Hail Glow
"The rain fell harder so that the sheep were roused. He heard them bleating in the lower meadow, and louder for the coming of the robbers of spirit. He hastened along the margins but the wind that came down into banks of white and green would take his breath, and he faltered where the fence line broke and the white tree grew. He had seen it from the heath, going to and fro in the belly of the trees, a mood as of some private god stirred from its mystery. He looked up, blinking in the rain, feeling a shape alight with soft hooves in high branches. The leaves trembled silver and grey and he thought of the cries of many animals untethered from the rod of the bone. "

"On that side where cover was sparse the god prevailed in rowan trees that were so dense that his footsteps crushed the fruit in the snow, and in black and red the prints revealed for a space the southward lip of the pen. Only once on that descent did Lindo glimpse the frith amidst its crystal water. On lower banks the violet stems of dogwood trapped the gaze; and alder trees forestalled with flecks of green and brown the golden fires newcomers would reckon. Soon the woods would thin to a land of pools and fields, but if in winter hours the wretched paused where the cut was deep, they would find, by virtue of rare winds, the thrumming light."