“The Earth, in relation to the distance of the fixed stars, has no appreciable size and must be treated as a mathematical point.”
― Ptolemy, The Almagest, 2nd century AD.
“I hope you love birds too, it is economical. It saves going to heaven.”
― Emily Dickinson, Letter to Eugenia Hall, 1885.
My father and I watch a flock of finches flying around the fallout shelter. Their orbits are slow and worn in, they make it seem like the hours outside are smaller than ours.
My father tells me if we wait long enough one of them will be Mercury, one will Venus, one will be Earth, one will be Mars.
Even then, I could tell his astronomy was clumsy and domestic, a way of keeping track of dinner manners and developed etiquette. A way to make sure an elastic band is all he’d ever be.
Waist high though, I believed him when he said, “there are breadwinners and there are bird feeders. Jillison, you are a bird feeder.“
And if the Earth is flatter than we ever gave it credit for, and if the Earth is already a dead bird drowned in mid-air.
When we first met I was living in a blue house (as it grew out a red house).
When I was tired I slept in spare shelves or scatter points. When I was awake I tried to keep track of the birds.
It was all a cradle to collapse, and then the candle came down.
The curtains were as thin as shedded snake skin. I tore them off to get a better look at him. He was walking with his mother. Her legs were made of grey and brick, her head was twice as tall as his.
It looked like there was a tunnel dug underground between the two of them, every time she moved a foot one way, he would follow a foot behind.
They had been walking that way for a while and then she stopped. She shouted something at him that I couldn’t hear. He shouted something back at her.
It felt like there was a family of field mice sneaking through me. I was already nervous.
She reached into the sack she carried and pulled out a piece of wood with a nail at its head. I hadn’t met her yet so I couldn’t have known what was coming.
She swung the wood with both her arms and he crumpled. Like a mannequin who’d been up all night.
—Continue reading “jillison flook”