Size / / /

His picture leaves her hands
Like the last leaf falling in December.
The pain of crumpling it
Still rings
In her long, thin fingers.
There is no questioning the immorality of littering,
No thought of him being reclaimed.

Slowly, painfully, she turns to the window,
Glaring as her train passes through the city.
Despite knowing them as rapists who fancied themselves as gods,
It has become hard to frown at their straight-edged encroachment;
Success was found in failure.

Beside her, the man reads his newspaper.
She knows what they are made of, but cannot look away.
The headlines offer no valid counterpoints,
Not a single reason to remain among them,
Reinforcing why it is good to carry not one of their seeds.

Then the headlines run together,
As they sometimes did these days.
Flesh and bone concepts were escaping,
Words were following.
Her mind was filling with the water trickling beneath the soil,
Pure and cold and never seeing light.

Her twenty seasons have ended.
Her toes have stretched and splintered,
Wrapped in damp bandages and
Stuffed into size fourteen work boots.
Pitiful glances escort the twenty-something girl who needs a cane to walk.
Inside, it seethes, Maya will remember not one of their names.

There was comfort in the knowledge that
There would be no knowledge.
No aerobics or treachery or miracle bras or credit cards.
No longer would her life be measured by feeble increments.
The trickling water was the voice of the wood,
Singing, "Daughter, it is time! Come home and be reclaimed!"

The train stops.
The town's human name is gibberish,
But she feels the holy pull
Of her ancestral home in her feet.
She leaves her cane behind
And runs back into her forest.

Once nestled in the tree line,
She strips off her clothes and laughs
Dry, throaty laughter at her body, this sack of salty meat,
Which men had charmed to fondle and probe.
She enters the crater, the womb she fled after twenty rings,
And faces the way she came.

The reclamation surges, exacting pain
As the price of not carrying one of their seeds.
She quickly pulls loose earth into the hole,
Up and over what was once her womanhood.
Her toes anchor her to the trickling water.
She reaches for father, the fire god in the sky,
And her back goes stiff and her arms go stiff,
And the bark starts breaking through
And absorbing her skin,
And her brief journey as flesh and bone
Starts passing before her dying eyes.

Less than an acre behind her,
A chain saw starts buzzing.
Her nerves send one last message of agony
As she strains and turns her head
While another saw starts up
In a small clearing that was never there before.
The trickling waters sing no worries,
But the remnants of her brain drown in the undertow,
In the horror of seeing all those stumps, all those men with saws,
Of reading the gravestone, the last words she would ever understand,
The sign which read, "Coming Soon! Shady Oaks Retirement Community."
And knowing they had yet to clear enough land.

Then the reclamation was complete.
There was no knowledge,
No questioning the immorality,
No thought of being reclaimed.
Flesh and bone concepts escaped her, words followed.
Her mind was full of water trickling beneath the soil,
Pure and cold and never seeing light.

 

Copyright © 2000 Michael Chant

Reader Comments


Michael Chant writes fiction, poetry, and reviews of books, music, and film. He is happily married, residing in southern New Jersey, and is currently employed as a scheduling reporter for TV Guide. His work has appeared in Twilight Showcase, Quantum Muse, Electric Wine, The Chiaroscuro, and GC Magazine.



Bio to come.
Current Issue
10 Feb 2020

This house was too small for six people, woefully so, but it’s too big for one; the empty rooms fill up with spirits.
By: Shannon Sanders
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Shannon Sanders's “Company.”
Please follow the instructions for reading this poem: 1. Imagine a cage. Any cage, of any size. 2. Love the cage. The cage is your friend.
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Gabriel Ascencio Morales's “Abstraction,” with a designed sound environment.
Issue 3 Feb 2020
By: Ada Hoffmann
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: S.R. Tombran
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 27 Jan 2020
By: Weston Richey
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Jan 2020
By: Justin C. Key
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 13 Jan 2020
By: Julianna Baggott
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Terese Mason Pierre
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Terese Mason Pierre
Issue 6 Jan 2020
By: Mitchell Shanklin
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 23 Dec 2019
By: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 16 Dec 2019
By: Osahon Ize-Iyamu
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Liu Chengyu
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 9 Dec 2019
By: SL Harris
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessy Randall
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Dec 2019
By: Sheldon Costa
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Mari Ness
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 25 Nov 2019
By: Nisa Malli
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Nisa Malli
Load More
%d bloggers like this: