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.
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