“But there are some who declare that such creatures of two sexes are monstrosities, and coming rarely into the world as they do they have the quality of presaging the future, sometimes for evil and sometimes for good.”
― Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library, 1st century BC.
“Suppose someone were to say: ‘Imagine this butterfly exactly as it is, but ugly instead of beautiful’?!”
― Ludwig Wittgenstein, Zettel, 1889-1951
We were swallowed whole and there we were, warm and inside, with the breath of that creature reaching over everything.
Our city was captured, a crash site covered in skin.
There was no exit or escape, every echo was an earthquake about to erupt, each exhale was a heat wave waiting for us.
The outcome was over already, we were the creature’s city now.
We woke up to stomachfuls of wrecking balls, wet food, worn debris. One storm after another, scattering against our shingles and gathering gray hair on the ground.
The city called it the creature’s rain, they collected it in their cellars and their stairwells, they carved their names into the cement it made.
You watched me there, collecting what remains I could, keeping myself unkilled in the creature’s cartilage.
Your eyes were on strings, swinging from a ceiling I couldn’t see. Your eyes were wide as white flags, watching me.
This city here, the one we’ve been left in, it’s a residual collapse, a heavy gasp. In the distance, the shape of it seems dimly scribbled against the inside of the creature, like the sketch of a spent explosive, it sprawls and then it shivers and then it sprawls some more.
The most of us that survived stuck to the center of the city, in small rooms in short skyscrapers, we searched for shelf lives that stayed just out reach.
Beneath the buildings, the creature’s ground was cold, coffee-colored, full of fault lines that caught fire whenever the fevers came.
You kept matchbooks in your pockets and I copied you. I rubbed gunpowder on my palms to get them pale like yours. I untrapped my hands as close to you as I could.
You told me maybe there were enough fault lines here to find us again. You said sooner or later the motion sickness might miss us both.
We spent the first season scavenging the creature for a skeleton key.
I searched in shrapnel piles and stolen terrain, I said over and over there had to be a way out of there.
Day after day, the creature’s rain wouldn’t stop painting us the way we truly were.
Each time I looked at you and your hair was heavier and darker. The build-ups in your breath came and went like birds stealing bread.
Your skin stayed sheet-white and still hid the stage whispers from me.
I was your hang-wire, your hiding place. I was your charade of ways to count backwards from the couple we didn’t become.
Our city stayed a knot in the creature’s stomach, a choke hold you couldn’t stop choosing over me. If there ever was a key, it couldn’t keep me from remembering it all too well.
This was what I knew about you: you grew up without a favorite cease fire.
Your mother was a pushcart, a towel rack, your father was the same. By the time you were five, every eavesdrop knew your name. By the time your flashback fell into mine, your face was still a fitting room you were trying to find.
We were living in a summer creature, one that had emptied out its echoes long before the leftovers fell in. The erosion was exposed, cloth wasn’t always an obstacle.
I found you in the back fields, burning bones in an old paper bag. They looked like black candles buried in there.
I remember your face was ragged, bruised under the eyes and bluish on the blind sides. I remember what you told me first, “the big wars are over, and the small ones never end.”Continue reading “seasons of creature”