When the earth had a name yet unuttered there were many forests above and beneath water. In one of these forests lived a community of eggs in various shades shapes and stages of development. Some eggs were completely round some oval some with dents some log long like flat worms. Inside each egg another world filled with water and forests and sky sky purple and pleasurably pink some skies aqua some tan some icy grey. The eggs lived amongst other eggs naturally but independently inside of their own shells. They never left these shells, never needed to, inside of their shells was everything: warmth coolness food days and days of ponderings and stretching and spinning. Some eggs had more than one presence and inside those worlds were dual worlds some triplicated each presence having exactly what it needed.
Above water lived winged and other creatures. Their worlds were not as expansive as the world of the eggs. They shared everything with herds of two- and three- and four- and sometimes one-legged creatures from many mothers many fathers and often they bumped into each other in the forests speaking many many languages. One day a small chicken a new thing only months old asked its elder where it came from and the elder replied ask your father. Father said from beneath us, in the waters. This baby chicken a very curious thing went in search of the worlds beneath the waters. Its father warned it to stay away we forgot how to do anything except walk on our feet and use our wings to travel in the sky. The child ignored its father and each day went in search of the underwater world. A few days passed with no sign of the waters so the child clever as it was decided to travel at night. Within hours of wandering in the night the child stepped onto an unfamiliar surface something wet wet and began sinking. The child did not panic its curiosity more powerful than its fear.
At the bottom of the water there were thousands of creatures some long and fat some scaly and large eyed some with strange bills all seeming to float and move at surprising speeds. Some didn’t really move at all. The water moved them. And scattered throughout the seafloor, eggs. The child went from egg to egg picking them up tossing them in the liquid air catching them and laughing laughing laughing with joy. Eggs! So many eggs! Hadn’t the child overheard its elders talking about these objects filled with riches these mysterious objects from long ago that suddenly disappeared when the land was overtaken by water? Yes! The child remembers the elders’ talk. The child wanted wealth and respect and honor and yes power. The child saw power in the eggs and began stuffing them in the pockets of its wings.
Something nudged the child on its leg. Softly then very persistently. The child turned and saw one of the strange-billed creatures this one with a pointy bill that looked very sharp. The child looked at is ankle and sure enough there was blood being washed away by the waters as quickly as it surfaced. Before you get angry the sharp-billed creature said I must warn you! If you plan on taking those eggs away from here you will put our entire world at risk! The creatures above have forgotten us. Leave the eggs here and let us forget you, too! The child angered by its bloodied leg and still very young began stuffing more eggs in its wings I’ll take what I want! No one owns these eggs! Oh but the eggs own themselves the sharp-billed creature tried to reason just as you own yourself! The child had heard enough. No one in the above world owned themselves fathers owned children and spouses mothers too the elders owned everyone children owned nothing. But with the eggs the child could own everyone! I’m taking the eggs! And you should apologize for what you did to my leg! I’m sorry the sharp-billed creature backed away and seemed to move forward closer to the child than ever before And I’m warning you, the world will be very different if you take those eggs above ground. The child turned its back on the creature and willed itself to the surface kicking frantically and thrusting its face upward. The child ran in the direction it remembered as home. Some of the eggs it had stuffed into its soft comb dropping to the ground some of the eggs it held in its mouth falling out as it laughed and ran.
In the morning the child woke with glee. All of the eggs it had been able to take! Oh they were less beautiful above ground than below the ruby reds were rather terra cotta and the lapis lazuli blues were a dull cerulean the greys that seemed like distant ice floats were now flat but they were the child’s. And the child silently hopped around its room feeling powerful powerful powerful.
The child could hear commotion outside and curiosity drove it to forget all about its hidden treasures. Oh the horror that met the child’s eyes. The chickens fighting one another for eggs. Eggs cracked open. Fathers squatting over eggs shaking their behinds on them. Fathers balancing eggs on their feet, folding their fur over them. Mothers with so many eggs in their mouths they’d fallen dead with a mouthful of broken eggs seeping out. Children kicking eggs far away and the elders beating the children with sticks. What was happening? Who brought the eggs here? one elder demanded. The child looked for its father oh the horror that met its eyes. The child’s father had thrust eggs underneath his behind and squirmed about furiously. The child tried to move away from the crowd but an elder grabbed it by the wing you did this didn’t you? The child nodded. Don’t you see the elder berated when the water swallowed the lands and took the eggs with them the winged ones had to make a new world. Now look at us! Soon the four-legged creatures will come to steal eggs for food and then chaos! The child stared at the elder. Oh you still don’t understand. You were once an egg. The child looked around at the chaos and heard in the distance the call of the hyenas and the furious feet of the raccoons. They would come and destroy everything! They’d eat all of the eggs and kill the winged creatures too. The child closed its eyes long long waiting for night to come for the day to reverse itself for this all to have been a dream but even with its eyes closed tight tight it could hear the noise around it. Oh the indignity seeing its father like that sweating and squirming. Its mother where was the child’s mother?
The child collected the eggs from its room and ran back towards the water. There it broke through the surface and landed at the bottom. Here! Have them back! the child pleaded. The sharp-billed creature came back with several more and they circled the child I warned you! Your greed would destroy everything! The child closed its eyes and felt the sword like piercings enter in and out of it everywhere everywhere. Gone were the thoughts of wealth honor respect power. Oh how powerless the child was now bleeding at the bottom of the world each blood drop turning into an egg.
welcome to the future Leader tells us in the first clearing a large animal leashed to his wrist its mouth yawning a blood red silence we are masked & naked our faces covered our bodies uncovered the men shiver & turn their hands into fig leafs & Leader’s words a whip unleashed the men’s hands suddenly stricken with branch shaped wounds the women’s stomachs hanging or taut & nearly not there no movement just soft where are our clothes a woman’s voice in the sunlight Leader’s words a cleaver & her mouth a terrible slumped animal the leashed cat yawns & the children won’t stop hopping around chasing each other in circles they have become dogs we stand naked our faces hot & liquid welcome to the future Leader says to the woman & sets his animal loose
when Leader found the first child sleeping in the dumpster he grabbed him by the throat and placed his lips to the boy’s temple this is how he collected us the fallen the wanderers the hapless seeker the churchgoers Leader would arrive as tambourine melt into our hands stain the palm with his branded teeth his mouth talking through the stretched skin of drums his parched lips moistened on all the innocent spots the wart covered cheek of one parishioner the swollen ankles of a man who hadn’t walked in decades the scalp of a woman with shingles the shrouded eyes of another he touched us with his reverent kindness and collected us our pieces no longer trash we trailed behind him followed his golden feet and never he promised would we call him Leader
the blood days frightened us the least to be cut across the veins is to watch the moon sickle & slice the sky we open our bodies to Leader blood escapes the prism that is our bodies on the blood days we fill holes with our waste & Leader drinks of that new earth no famine he’d say no famine the moon hangs lower and continues to cut the wretched sky
Before Leader takes me into his mouth I am holy. My mother’s hands did slide between my legs, her soapy fingers did edge between my buttocks, underneath my arms, her hands, her nails created crescents in my skull. My mother cleansed my body, kept me clean until I was old enough to erase the dirt gathered in my playtime, the dirt stuck beneath my knees, the sweat alive and shining behind my ears. I was clean. And holy. A preacher once slipped one hand beneath my neck and laid the other hand against my chest, pushed me beneath water. I was another kind of clean. And holy. When I rose again I was holy and married to God. I had never pressed my mouth against another’s mouth but I knew holy love. Clean love. I was clean. Before Leader took me into his mouth I had my own name, a clean, holy name. I was Matthew. God’s gift. I was holy. My flesh is now singed. The mouth of Leader is all my body remembers. Leader’s tongue buds of unholy names beneath my fingernails. The wife who is my wife, Leader handed this woman to me and said Take her now she is yours. She is a singed thing. Leader’s damp fingers in my wife’s mouth. My eyes have no purpose anymore. They see only Leader’s hands… everywhere. Leader’s unholy mouth burnt into the base of my unholy back.
to look in the face of Leader is a terrifying thing a trembling thing in this room a terrible trembling and it does not come from the unspoken words resting dutifully patiently in my belly the trembling walls wail and only I seem to hear them but Leader’s voice rises to a high pitch and the paper in his hands tremble and emit a choking cough persistent dangerous and he throws the pages to the top of his very clean desk and the desk trembles a roar unneat and uncaged a lion’s head pushing from the desk the paws beginning to thunder on the floor the entire universe seems to have collected in this room a trail of ants march from the mouth of Leader his fifth wife carries offerings of bread shaped like but but but her eyes butterflying and splitting into many winged beasts her hands and arms branched and shaking Leader watches my words once ink now pebble and boulder roll from the page building mountains of words there is a small entryway a cave I can just barely see I am a silent bolt of lightening on a dry night I spark and flute and shine a wallowing cry quietly I enter the cave and keep entering the cave light throwing itself against the stones heat refracting back my words burning edges of chipped light into my body
it’s always the same a door closes and everyone panics or I’m alone and panic and we are trapped our eyes are stars pathways to us in this darkness inside our mouths fear and fear is blood it is hot we try to detach our eyes put these pointed lights in our pockets keep them safe someone says what you can’t see we are too terrified to laugh it is not the dark that frightens us but the men who hunt us for our skin suddenly everyone wants to live we are paralyzed by the dying of dying it is noisy everyone’s mouth pursed and purring shhhhhh shhhhhhh louder and louder we can hear the men on top of us above us and we scuttle under tables or leap into closets we make ourselves flat flat and throatless we climb into shelves no one has breath anymore all color is gone white the dust white the closet our breaths gray emptied of everything but white our sweat white whorls and the odor white our fears dusty and white white the children’s tears their mouths leaping in the palms of our hands the room is wet with terror the men’s guns loud bullets desperate to leave the landscape of the wrecked mouths of guns
their laughter is leather a deathly sweaty sound rubbing against the walls a smoky terrible sound like dry weather we can hear them on the stairs their white breath turning liquid getting louder and louder we can hear them scrape their guns against the walls we run silently the noise of our shoes turned inward the floor is not a floor has no designation no definition no hardwood no carpet no cork no concrete just matter our feet touch we run we can hear them louder and louder behind us we can hear them laughing at us no one will get out of this we imagine our blood on their tight flesh how did we arrive here in this white terror how did we arrive where have the children gone tears have stopped coming no more white streaks on the walls on the floors we run into an open field we hear them louder and louder we hear them we hear them the copse of pines so far away we are inside suddenly we are inside surrounded by doors and walls and there are no tables to hide beneath only chairs we make ourselves small and wait
light we can see light light of eyes glistening white light matter blinking the noise light light surrounds us flapping wings crash in our ears slam into our blood we are vibrating the weight of this noise drowns the men’s scraping laughter a wall of crows we realize outside it is a wall of crows their wings above us beside us wings beneath us the thick springiness of weeds we are surrounded by crow wing and beat and stark white eyes we hear the men outside the crows have stopped moving everything but their warbly throats the horrible shrieking it is agony the men yell stop stop stop I can’t take it they yell the crows still in the night air their throats vibrant bloody it is a killing noise the men shriek and gunshots there are gunshots and stop stop stop you’re killing us the men yell and and and silence silence silence the crows silent their wings dissolve into night into thick fog we too remain silent silent silent
a concentricity of crows surround us their diaphanous wings beating against each other building a bridge of noise silent and our teeth grate edges against the sky we gather push backwards a breach of bodies against this house of crows they have saved us we think and just as quickly we think why
we are hungry and the crops have been eaten by the wind the wind eaten by mountains of beetles the beetles devoured by land lizards taken by wolves’ throats we are hungry and have no kill training our slow night movements need speed need daybreak our quick morning movements need nightfall need patience in the open plains we stalk deer in the crow dense forest we forage for non poisonous fungi so many of us dead now how to shield ourselves how to be predator the wolves sniff every half whole sickle sliver of no moon the moon sniffs us the wind useful in its absence our scents hang low to the ground and spread in the air seeds carried off by hawks the cows close in on us their sharp horns smell of land fertile we eat what they eat become them in our ignorance of this land our bellies soon will rise and swell as the sun rises and swells soon the coyotes the wolves the snakes all this land will descend upon us we are weakened