Size / / /

First, we perfected scent. Layered all together,
the stew of loam and rot and pine and wet,
dirt and moss and scat. We did not sanitize it.
Decay was essential, given that it marks life.

We filtered light carefully through lacy leaves
and brushy needles. We know from the Record
that sunlight dapples and moonlight pools.
We believe we have perfected the
stealthy, damp progress of fog.

Our young say change is essential in all systems,
but we do not know how to engineer the
proper chaos. Or beasts. Our squirrels chitter
at intervals, but not for mating or warning or
fearful response. For that we beg pardon.

In sound, we excel. May I say that without hubris?
From the chik-chik of insects deep within rotted
leaf-piles to the occasional howls of wolves,
our forests sound real. We are proud of the
real we have achieved.

From the Record, we know that men expected
terror just outside the golden circles of their
campfires. We currently research how we
might add risk to our creation. If there is no forest
without danger, then danger we must add.

We consider fantastical creatures for holidays
sacred to old faiths. In the meantime, we create
moods to enhance the visitor experience.
Dripping water and low light means melancholy.
Sunlight in a grove of warm-hued grass means joy.

We have not created perfection. I am told that
perfection is in fact undesirable. Whatever your
opinions, please share them with your docent,
for the Record. Nothing lasts forever.
Your impressions will be needed too.

Susan Carlson has lived all over the United States, but currently calls San Francisco home. When not writing or cat wrangling, she’s a reader, gamer, cook, and avid watcher of historical documentaries. This is her first published work. You can keep up with Susan at her blog,
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13 May 2024

This variation on the elixir of life pairs the flavour of roasted roc with the medicinal potency of the philosopher’s stone. But buyer beware: this dish isn’t for everyone.
mourn and lament while mixing, then cut down a tree
At the end of every tunnel, there was an epithelium of silence that deluged the larynx.
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