by Susan Harlan
Once I saw a taxidermy boar in a Bavarian restaurant in the mountains. He lived on a log wall in North Carolina, the logs separated by bands of white, a room held together by stripes. The boar was a guardian. He watched the door. His ears stood up, but his eyes were drowsy. His teeth seemed determined to escape his mouth, fangs from a fairy tale. The sign on the table next to him read, Please Wait To Be Seated, with some squiggly lines and dots on the page. And below him was a large drippy candle. His world smelled of sausages and old patterned carpet, and he reigned over glassware, cutlery, mugs, and a hearth with no fire in summer. This boar was a hunted thing once. His fur was dusty, and when I put my nose close to him, he was real, but when I touched his plasticy snout, he was a false thing.
Susan Harlan is an English professor at Wake Forest University, where she specializes in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature. Her essays have appeared in venues such as The Toast, Literary Mothers, The Awl, The American Guide, Public Books, The Manifest-Station, The Feminist Wire and Skirt!, and she has a monthly column for Nowhere magazine entitled “The Nostalgic Traveler.” This piece is about the actual board’s head at The Bavarian Restaurant and Biergarten in Weaverville, North Carolina (pictured).