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i. In the beginning was the word.
   Already the word existed, and the word was God.

(With flaps of tongue and clicks of teeth,
with spasms of corded sinew timed to the pulse-beats of His glottis,
He turned consonants into calve muscles
and vowels into ventricular systems.)

   He thought, therefore man is. Man is, and is in His image.
   She is, and she is God.

ii. As He once appeared in Eden, she appears in a garden.
   Autumn mist coalesces as the sun
   crawls on spider-legs, casting its web
   and light over wooded acres.
   Palls of dusky paleness cling
   to towering evergreens,
   its phantasmagoric softness
   like that of memories.

(The eyes are in the house.
They are not here.)

   When the morning gains its color, gossamer shrouds
   grow heavy; the groves fade from pastels to
   vibrancy
   like photographs on paper.
   The haze is transmogrified;
   a dew of silvery teardrops are
   left clinging to stems,
   to verdure, in the way that pearls
   are threaded with strings.

(Between curiosity and danger,
between her first step and her next,
falls her shadow.)

   For this is her Kingdom, and she
   wends the path she forges
   crowned in an aureole of dawn.
   Childish faith in immortality inspires her
   walk, and in the forest-deep,
   she finds gilded leaves dripping pools of
   smelted, glowing gold.

(Here we go ‘round the prickly pear,
Prickly pear, prickly pear)

iii. The tree is heavy with jewels.
   A treasure cloistered in
   a copse, surrounded by thickets
   and thorns and threats.
   It is her first time seeing
   something forbidden
   with her own eyes.

(Don’t go round the prickly pear.
Don’t eat from Father’s garden.)

   Apples dangle, glimmering wetly,
   their flush a perfect match for
   youthful cheeks
   Excitement tickles her empty
   belly as senses are roused,
   and she is enticed
   by the tang of sweet rot.

(Between the yearning and the warnings,
between the branches and the roots,
falls her shadow.)

   An apple’s life is not
   long, she notes, nearly slipping
   in puddles of pulp.
   The crisp air festers further when
   her boot crushes fruit,
   half-molded, bursting its flesh
   as one might an organ.
   She can taste spongy
   viscera before plucking her prize.

(The hope of hollow stomachs.)

   Pulling breakfast from its bough, she thinks
   of Christmas trees and Christ
   of gardens and God
   of herself in the mottled sheen
   of her apple’s skin; the weary groan
   of low-hanging limbs, its summons suggestive
   of grandmother’s crooked fingers,
   of reminders to pray before taking
   a bite.

(Between missing teeth and swollen cheeks,
between mastication and swallowing,
between her epiglottis and her trachea,
falls the apple.)

iv. For Thine is—
      Life is—
         For Thine is the—

   Fruit and knees are bruised in the topple to earth,
      sticky hands
   clasped
around her throat.

   (A bulge. Lodged.)
      It is hell and thermal expansion and a chunk of smothering coal and
Her lungs wither
   fire spreads,
      embers winking in her periphery as
flames eat at her vision.
   The picturesque morning
curdles
               in upon itself, overdeveloped and turning
                        black.

   Cheerful chirrups— birdsong
      harmonize         with fruitless heaving. She
   is, and she is God and God would cast a girl from Eden, but
                           she cannot cast Eden
                                 from her esophagus.

Spittle foams in her lip’s corners,

   frothing down          her mouth          when

   her serpent tongue       betrays her.

 

   She crumples like
   an angel:

 

   graceless

 

   nonexistent.

v.               (Between)

      Genocide       and       Genesis
            lie the powers of God

   Glassy eyes reflect the sky
   in hues of stained-blue glass,
   open windows that lead to
   oblivion.

(not here, not here;
this is the dead land)

But—

   Soon there are others
   to fill that void,
   squelching   and   squishing
   for a chance to peek
   through fibrous casements.

(A headpiece filled with—)

   Maggots and worms
   at home in her skull;
   ants march through
   the tubes of her bones.

(Rushing like wind)

   A raven feeds
   its young
   on the meat of inner thighs, and
      fungi sup

on juicy, deliquesced fat and

   a seed possesses
   her heart as
        hair becomes weeds,
                 becomes ash,
                       becomes dust

(in a field)

   Mortal bodies are not
   but sentience and dirt,
   following plots
   until they become one.

   When finally found by family, she

is alive

      as the soil
that comprises her grave.

   There is nothing to do but
   let her grow.

(Between the sentience and the subliminal
between the parables and the parody)

   In the spring, a sapling sprouts
   from the urn of her gullet
   Fertilized by fetid tissue, it
   becomes hearty and strong.
   In six falls’ time, her body
   bears beautiful fruit.

(And at five o’clock in the morning,
her brother wakes hungry.)

 

 

“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

— T. S. Elliot, “The Hollow Men”



M. Regan has been writing for over a decade, with credits ranging from localization work to short stories to podcast scripts. Their soulful debut novella, 21 Grams, can be found on Amazon and Timber Ghost Press’s website, while they can be found on Twitter and Facebook at @MReganFiction.
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