by Paige Crawley | December 12, 2022
Setting: Between two columns. In a public square, at the temple steps. Between two dopaminergic neurons.
In a cave somewhere lies some sort of plant, some coarse but reassuring bloom of green and – maybe red, some orange. A deep dark avernus feeds it, waters it in lolling, rolling laps up shallow banks. The roots push through black, pebbly sand with persistent ease.
I wake up in the mornings and open my eyes to painful light, painful darkness when my eyelids fall tic tic shut –
so I creep off obscure axes into life as some wild, half-mad creature. My fingers are clawed, grasping around little, tiny, easy things I haven’t quite found yet.
flesh is drawn to sweet the way flesh is drawn to death
that bit of flesh that rests between my empty,
I pour relish down my throat like air, like divers sick on nitrogen and fear. I flush myself with plenty, space, restraint. I wish I loved the taste of perseverance – it is never long on my tongue before my stomach draws it down.
Spits. It’s a quick-twitch muscle, it’s a quick-twitch, twitching itch I’ve cobbled up from numb bits in my ear canals and sharp aches in my knees. By which I mean, I mean –
My conscious life is a series of empty, flipping frames:
“I spent an era soaking my spondyl-olis-the-sis in NSAIDs.”
Vibrates like a nightingale, my tongue; quivers like guts strung up on lyres with all sorts of lovely, limping melodies and lines of poetry, lines of quick reproach. Tastes future ancient blood, too. Knows the cost of silence. Can’t stomach the cost of speech. Oh, my tongue keeps me human, it lifts me from the earth. Of all my muscles made for working, my tongue alone can overdo its work. Of all my muscles made for working, my tongue has no need for sorrow.
As a child, I lay in bed awake, just –
inside a person who wears
more denim than they would like.
And its leaves are blind to daylight.
My eyes are gouged, my feet are wrecked –
but nomad I am not. I’ll shock the heavens and be here tomorrow ∎
Words by Paige Crawley. Art by Rachel Jung.