Arnold stood in the middle of a calm eye. An approaching storms attention had become diverted by his yellow boots. Arnold enjoyed the eager blue above him and the bright pupil that fixated on him, watching his yellow boots stomp through puddles with rapt focus. On the periphery of Arnolds idyll, roofs became unmoored and whirled through the sky like shingled Frisbees. Unleashed sheet metal decapitated trees. Cows were lifted up into the milky clouds. After hours of unblinking observation, the calm eye began to get sleepy. It could barely keep itself open. Arnold could sense the periphery of gales and torrents closing in on him as the eyelid drooped downward.
* * *
A dry windfall vaporized our sweat. Quakes shuddered in unison with footfall as we trudged towards the gash in the valley. Days later we came to the edge. We were desiccated and preternaturally old; we were a petrified forest. The gash could be crossed by a bridge that swung like an unwieldy jump rope. We sent out the athletes among us. Even in their fossilized states, they could manage their gross motors. Once they had crossed the bridge, the petrified athletes turned into baby monkeys. They pounced and baby-growled and displayed their sharp baby teeth in their chubby baby faces. We called to them with amber voices thick in our throats, but they continued to frolic without looking our way.
* * *
It was winter and the bears refused to hibernate. They stalked the snowdrifts in their musky black coats. It was winter and I had just climbed out of a fever. My bed was saturated with hallucinations. My pillow held a nest of disoriented hair. I left the cabin to find the small dog that I had neglected. I could see her in the far distance, where summer was flourishing. She darted after rabbits in a meadow. I called to her and she looked at me half buried in the snow. She turned away and ran towards the equatorial sun. I took off my long johns. I put my parka in the closet. My snow boots no longer served me. I brought the bears into my house one by one and shaved off their musky black coats. Were coming, I called to my dog. The bears and I walked hand-in-hand through the blizzard towards the summerland.
* * *
The agents came to the door searching for Lucy. Lucy had been missing for 12 days. They showed us a picture of Lucy. The agents made us look hard at Lucys smile until we remembered the shape of each of her teeth. Next they told us to study Lucys hands. They made us memorize the contours of her fingers. A few hours later, we heard a knock at the door. It was Lucy. She smiled and showed us her empty gums. Lucy displayed her hands, which were as distended and white as inflated surgical gloves. What happened? we asked. Lucy looked down at her t-shirt. It said BUN IN THE OVEN with an arrow pointing to her left breast. We said, Why dont you come in and have some cookies? We thought we could heal her, but her hands could not grasp and her mouth could not chew.
* * *
We saw a womans head get big and then a mans. We saw the rawness of the taste buds covering their tongues as they slipped into each others mouths. The man and woman were embracing on a boat that drifted in between flattened waves. In the middle of the lake, the couple became disentangled. They sighed intermittently. They told stories that explained the reasons for their drifting anchors. Finally, the credits rolled and rolled and rolled. As we were leaving, the mans head emerged suddenly from the screen. We furrowed our brows. Is it not yet over? we wondered. The mans head opened a mouth to reveal smaller mouth. The smaller mouth opened to reveal brittle teeth that meekly protected a whisper. Im hungry, it rasped. Eat these Twizzlers, we offered. And we fed the fading projection because we could sense that it was starving.
* * *
The conversation had come to an abrupt halt. It stopped so fast that some words, fueled by heated breath, continued on. The words were separated from the body that had suckled them. Flitting around in the air, the words had forgotten their mothers. The words mouths searched in vain for wet nurses. The conversationalists stood up hastily, dropping the napkins that had spanned their laps. They tried to catch the words with glasses and spoons. In a last-ditch effort, they tore open their shirts to reveal their nipples. The words took no notice, and soon were interspersed with one another, mingling in a salacious way. There was a population explosion in the air around the conversationalists heads. But without proper childcare, the words would grow up to be shiftless and ill-defined.
* * *
Claire put on her Sunday best. She walked out the door into Wednesday, the day of her birth. Her mother said she was full of woe and lo and behold, within her chest was a sloshing bucket of sorrow. Claire went to the park and sat under the Shedding Tree. No matter the season, the Shedding Tree rained down debris coated in pollen. Every once in a while, it drizzled sap. Claire sat under the tree for hours. Her bucket of woe had stilled and when Claire looked into it, she could see her reflection enshrouded in seeds and nuts and berries. And the pollen covered her adornment like a fine, yellow fur. When she got home, Claires mother took a good look at her and sighed. She knew there was no saving Claires Sunday best.
* * *
The Spinning Woman
The spinning woman looked at me with twirling eyes. I felt in my pocket for the little pill that stabilized me. You are on solid footing, she assured me. I reached out to the spinning woman who whirled across the floor like a top. She said, Dont stop me. She found a suitable spot and gyrated. As I watched her, I felt torrents drain from my eyes. When did the ocean arrive? I asked her representative. A scuba-suited gentleman answered. He was hired to redirect questions and to reframe the truth. He dismissed the ocean, which lowered and lowered until even its deepest chasms were exposed. He stanched my crying until my eyes were hard peanuts in a roasted shell. The spinning woman kept spinning even as the representative began to suck dry the glaciers and aquifers that quenched her plumbing.
* * *
The Very Large Ears
The Very Large Ears could hear every voice that emitted from even the tiniest pore or stoma. They could hear the singing moose or the sighing clover. They could hear worms composting kitchen scraps into soil. The Very Large Ears drifted in space and they contained many moons and stars within their folds and canals. When I whispered in my inaudible voice at night, I felt the ears hearing me. Their hearing me was like a salve that pulsated out and soothed my hoarse thoughts. I began to train my ears under the tutelage of the Very Large Ears. My ears could hear a flea whimper on a distant planet by the end of their apprenticeship. Now there were two pairs of ears attuned the tenor of existence. When the cacophony became too intense, I called out in alarm. But I could sense that the Very Large Ears no longer listened.