you open the papers, wipe the headline-stains on the back of
your knee, grumble that the world has changed since you were
young. elder, all it did was become high definition.
it turned your window into a pathway, and you don’t like standing
in its light. there are so many trees you don’t know the names of.
you never look up to imagine where you are shading. when the fruits
bear, you will ask someone else to clean it up, you will ask someone
else to dig up outside the roots and check if it has been drinking
something fetid. the land cannot break so easily to your questioning.
you will search the pillowcases and the diaries, will guess at a pickaxe
for the phone. still nothing. you will ask why you never noticed the
rot before, how it just tore apart the boards while you sat, why
didn’t anyone tell you? the tree will batter your roof in the night
breeze. it will slap you with a low branch as you get into your car.
the gravestones? don’t study that. we will send someone to check
them around midnight, come to get the parcels left inside: dates and
places for other visitations, jagged clues of whose throat to
collect next, and the moonlight, a silencer attached to the will.
by morning, you can forget the pommeracs, and your children’s flesh
the same. you can sit at the porch and only be busy with the sun
again. you don’t need to leave the gate open. this can miss you
in the night like the things we cull, or call to, or cry God to.
you can only sit in so many white-wall conferences with other people’s
textbooks hanging on the shelves at every corner before you finally
realize that your mouth is a weapon. here, it is safe. here, we do
maths about bodies and hope that this is enough. but in the night,
those bodies are either chemistry or literature, a catalyst or a
metaphor; in the night, what survives is a motif for what survives
and what doesn’t is a figure in one of those long questions about
when two trains will meet. my goal is to be the calculus
that no one else can perform. to write the essay that says
your children stand for the Writer’s joy, unending and boundless,
scraped only by the sharp stones beneath wayward lemongrass and
the jagged barks of other people’s mango trees. to be immovable,
the thing that channels fear outward. you learn something strange
when you garden for souls. you learn that soil has the power to
change things. you take out the locked box of the warped evidence,
gaze at the suffering wasting something away. you watch the worms
evolve with the taste of meat and sorrow. it even changes you,
twists your jaw vengeance-parched. and yet, the soil is always
soil. may i always be soil. perfect and hungry and capable of
chewing slowly and without doubt.
(Editors’ Note: “lagahoo culture (Part II)” is read by Matt Peters on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast, Episode 39A.)
© 2021 Brandon O'Brien