Fragments Found at Her Altar of Childhood
+ there is a shepherd who lives in Mexico City and seizes at the sight of the Virgin Mary
As children, they called us jackal hearts. They held us by our anklebones. When mother went blind and gouged her eyes, we could be found in the kitchen bending spoons. It was a quiet kind of gesture—no hands required. More like static in the air than tremors in the earth.
+ one can view boredom as an unholy emotion, but one cannot imagine the peace found in a buried coffin
They say that we find our gifts in the goat blood. The salt and viscera ferments between our lips, leaving our skulls knobby and our visions stirred. Summer, we see horsemen and a half moon. Everything wanes. Winter, we see Aztec burials: a more disciplined practice than one might think. Once there was a girl who shared the blood vision, but she was not like us. When she drank from an open wound she saw only breadroot and turnip and the moss on graves. As we bent spoons and lifted cattle, she tended to our mothers eyes. She fed her ginger and honey, all in the hopes of cultivating an iris, as if our mother’s visions might make hers fade away.
+ all prayers for silence end with amen
If this girl was not a girl she might have been a bindweed, a birch tree, a feverbush, a houseleek, a carnivorous flower on a desert planet forced to eat its own vines.
+ this all has to explode and when it does, there will be a shattered television screen
We stole away when we were young, but found the girl again. She had straw hair and a voice that sounded like the scrape of hollow shells. In the remnants of a garden, she plucked the wings from butterflies, and tried to make symmetry. She buried their bodies between wilting fern and barn dust. We returned to sucking salt. Said, this is what we do. We could picture it so clearly: this insect now more fly than monarch, and how it could smear time backwards. We hung above its carcass. We prayed for a cocoon.
There is a Granule of Sand Between Desert & Desertion
So here’s how these things go: A boy is born in an unnamed town, and his mother soon realizes he coughs dead light. It’s wearing me out, she says, these stars staining the carpet, the plasma and hydrogen dripping down his bib. In the old days, when this place was sand-crater-alluvial-fan-this-is-not-a-town-for-you, the father might have left him at the firehouse. The men in red suits might have fed him peaches, built a crib, and let him grow into a sensitive thing. But this is a progressive place. And the father works at the bank. And when he tells the mother he can’t take it anymore—he wanted to raise a son, not a sun—she drives out of town and into the desert, leaving the boy to die beneath a tree. If you are a romantic person, you are welcome to believe that the tree will soak the light from his throat and grow tall enough to shade the town. But in truth, there is no tree. If there were, it would die too. This is a desert and the boy is now a fossil. Sorry.
Garrett Biggs grew up in the San Francisco bay area. His most recent fiction has appeared in CutBank, Nashville Review, and Paper Darts.
Photo by Tony Fischer