ISSUE 4 · SPRING 2010
J. A. TYLER
Boy is not seeking Girl. Boy is seeking shiny things on the ground. Boy is seeking trinkets.
Boy is not completely with it.
Boy sometimes opens his mouth to the warm winds and swallows as quickly as he can until he grows sick and throws up air all over his bare feet, his scabbed feet, his open-sore feet, his soaked-in-wilted-skin feet.
The wind is warm during the day and cold at night. The temperature of the Land goes from zero to three hundred. People freeze and People burn up and some People have figured out ways to stay hot when it is cold and to stay cold when it is hot. Those People who have figured it out are the People still living, are the People still walking this rampant stretch of Land.
Boy walks. Boy bends to pick up a rock. Boy bends to pick up a stick. Boy bends to pick up what looks like a seashell but is the top of a skull, a crown. Boy wears it on his head. Boy is king. Boy is a scepter. Boy is laughing wild.
The wind skims his head:
The Land whistles. The Land hums. The Land sings. The Land tells its new secret:
Boy is a skull on top of another skull. Boy is a crown on his head. Boy is a pretend king.
Boy says to the wind:
I AM KING.
And the wind it answers back:
Boy is not seeking Girl, Boy is seeking Boy. And Boy thinks he has found Boy, in the veil of a crown, under the arch of a black sky, inside the heat of a wind.
Boy’s eyes rolling back. Boy’s hands twisting in slippery ruffled applause. Boy’s feet moving to the next found object, to the next unfruitful bending over, to the next shiny point.
Boy and his trinkets and his scepter.
Boy and his bony crown.
Girl is searching for her lost water. Girl has lost her water. Girl is waterless.
Sprinklers. Fountains. Sinks.
Girl swims in ideas. Girl has notions. Girl wants.
There is a low hum. There is a sound.
Across the Land there is Girl. Girl travels alone. Girl is alone. Girl had a family but now is alone. Girl likes being alone. Girl loved being alone when she had water. When Girl was water, being alone was like being in a dream where everything was right and good and perfect and unchangeable. Until Girl’s water was stolen. Now being alone is only satisfying, not eager, not checked, not right, not perfect.
Girl would cry, but dust only comes. No water.
The trees are either flaming or husks. The trees hang with People. The trees are markers for lines, point to point. Girl goes from point to point. Girl goes from swaying body to swaying body. Girl goes in search.
Girl thinks that she sees water on the horizon. Girl thinks that she sees a horizon. Girl thinks that she sees Land. Without water though, Girl is blind, and all of these things Girl sees are only potential. Girl is now only potential. Girl with water was absolute; Girl without is arbitrary and irrelevant.
An arm in a hollow tree reached into Girl and took what she had. Took Girl’s water. She blacked-out and came to and her water was gone and Girl was torn apart and now it is all dreaming.
Girl dreams wet. Girl dreams rivers. Girl and Ocean, holding hands, waves between them.
Girl’s dry skin. Girl’s dry eyes. Girl’s longing.
Girl goes in search, tree to tree, flame to flame, water only ever on the horizon of maybe pretend Land making this noise:
Power-lines rumbled down so People play hopscotch in them and when one of these People steps on one of these downed lines they fry and crack and sizzle and scorch until they are blackened and brittle, until they are no longer a part of a herd of People.
The power lines no longer make their sounds:
Great lumps of People, clanging over the Land. Great heaps. Great hunks. People leaving the dead behind them, People with heaving hung chests, People with arms full of whatever they think is meaning.
People carry animal skins. People carry hammers. People carry the insides of a coffee-maker disem-boweled and useless. People carry thread. People carry motor oil. People carry plastic sacks. People carry cloth. People carry handfuls of pens and pencils, markers. People carry clocks that have stopped, watches that do not work, words:
MEN. WOMEN. MEN. WOMEN.
Men and Women are People now. Men and Women no longer exist. People exist. People who walk. People who whisper to each other. People who make a whisper that sounds like waves. People who make words that are not words. People who say things that don’t matter. People who touch each other’s arms and legs, making a kind of tactile pincushion.
People seeking. People gathering. People.
The herds, when they move, fast create massive dust clouds that span miles, that cover the Land, that billow to the Ocean’s edges. And the herds, when they move slowly, it is like they are not moving at all, like they are standing still, mimicking their watches, their clocks, all of the world and how it has stopped.
J. A. Tyler is the author of Inconceivable Wilson (Scrambler Books, 2009), Sinatra (Vox Press, 2010), In Love With a Ghost (Willows Wept Press, 2010), A Man of Glass & All The Ways We Have Failed (Fugue State Press, 2011), & The Zoo, A Going (Dzanc Books, 2013). His work has appeared recently with Diagram, Sleepingfish, Caketrain, Fairy Tale Review, elimae, & Action, Yes, among others. He is also founding editor of mud luscious press.