Numb

The cello hums a warm melody through the laptop speakers.  I am no stranger to this sound.  My lungs move with the instrument’s faint swell-drop, characteristic of its hollow, wooden body.

The ocean undulates ferociously.  Waves crashing against the rock-hard barriers that keep water away from the shore.

Meanwhile, on land, all is dry.  The villagers have no embellished tales of fish, extravagant beasts washed to shore in the night’s storm.  They know the legends of mermaids and sharks as large as ocean liners, fictitious feathers of hope that something interesting might happen, if they pray hard enough.  They gaze at the black clouds above them: perhaps tonight is the night.

The floods come hard and fast, spilling jellyfish and bottles and unanchored ships onto the sand.  They bury themselves beneath the dust, sculpting homes of the wet, grainy clay.  The salty ocean swallows them before dawn.

***

            Bluish laser lights cannot penetrate the thick, graphite brick that rests somewhere inside my skull.  They can blind me all they want, but they will never disrupt the safe, neutral mass of minerals I have allowed to accumulate between my ears.

…or so I think.

The artificial sun is hot enough to form crevices where there was once a flat expanse of gray.  Heated rays spread lonely particles across the wasteland to where they, too, will transform this uniform object into something unsightly.

All the earth’s work, falling to waste.  This brick took years to form, fitting the mold just so.  At this rate it will never form a house; it will see the sad day where it is mechanically separated into slender cylinders and divided equally among the wood.

***

            The percussion of pots and pans affects me more than the steepest high note, the loudest shout to leave my lungs.  My vessel-lined alveoli shrivel into their pink mothers, asking why this chaotic noise has to happen to them.

Iron lungs are no longer iron, for iron rusts too fast.  They are bricks laid around a wooden frame, massive twelve-by-twelve squares too heavy to be mobile.  The patient must lie inside, wrapped in the safety of the oxygenated cocoon.

“What a sad way to live,” the villagers say. “What a lonely way to go.”

There comes a time when the patient must choose how or if he or she wishes to communicate, to know the humans outside without choking on their pollution.  To leave the lung would spell danger.

A Carol

Hodie the child rolls from its cocoon, slimy with its mother’s insides.  They dunk it in water and determine its gender.

Hodie it shrieks a morpheme.  Its teachers snap to attention with their pens gripped between their bony fingers.  They cannot miss the wealth of information that is pouring from its tongue.

Hodie it holds onto something and uses that as a crutch for the rest of the day.  They stick mattresses under it so it won’t be broken.

Hodie she sings for the first time.  She’s sharp; but she feels so wonderful in her new, pink dress.  It is better than shrieking.

Hodie she learns that lines are dangerous.  She makes her own maps.

Hodie she doesn’t understand why what supports her feet is of so much concern to them.  They send her away because educating to the tune of questions is too much work.

Hodie her skin falls away and she grows a new one.  It isn’t horribly comfortable, but she will have to deal with it if she wants to make friends.

Hodie reality is no longer acceptable to it.  It makes do with the poetry of the pencil and the secret language of Poe.

Hodie she bathes herself in icy blue to dull the sting of the outside.

Hodie she buries herself in layers of armor and they roll her over in her sleep.  A beetle, defeated.

Hodie numbers are what she must avoid, for the lock her in the present.  If days were gifts, they must have come from a dumpster.

Hodie she leaps onto the palate and chooses a color.  She paints herself from head to toe.  This is what she is.

Hodie lines are all there are.  She dares not cross those lines.

Hodie her mouth opens, but nothing useful comes out.  Questions shouldn’t be asked, she knows, and no proper comment can she make.

Hodie she sings and it is perfect.  Her dress shrieks around her, squeezing her arms with its itchy elastic and suffocating her legs with every step.

Hodie the television-tray stands permanently in the living room.  She folds with it when they aren’t looking.

Hodie she holds onto something and makes it her own.  They wrestle her to the ground: “That thing could snap your bones in half.”

Hodie its words are quiet and controlled.  Its teachers ignore it and know it will do well, regardless of whether or not it seems intelligent.

Hodie it rolls from its bed, slimy with sweat and nightmare and drool.  It dunks itself in water and determines its gender.

Stress

She holds the scalding mug to her forehead, because her nerves are at it again.  With their spindly hands, they grasp onto the squishy tip of her eyeball and squeeze until its fluids congeal in an impenetrable wall at the bottom of her skull.  The only thing that can stop them is heat, and the blue pills that might do some miracle to relieve the tension.

She doesn’t know whether or not they work, but it’s worth a shot.

Eventually her nerves are calmed, and her straining cranial bones release their hold on the barrier that falls and smashes onto her back and crinkles into every tiny crevice of her spine.  The shattered bricks of jelly sever her muscles and rip at her tendons, taunting her for daring to lift the bags she knows are far too heavy for her strength.  She grits her teeth at the pain that ensues, feeling the burn of twisted brown paper digging into her thin fingers.

Her body is constantly digging at itself, and for what?

Vertebrae shovel their path to the knees, to the ankles, to the ground.  Her feet are aching with the pressure.  No treasure is to be found in this frozen soil, she explains; but her body does not – cannot – listen.  Biology has no ears to lend, only hands to form what it sees fit.  Maybe she will be crushed under its massive fingers, unsuitable for another generation.

How could she survive death, if this is how she crumbles on Earth?