-Written for a world building game at Roleplayer Guild.com
This forest is lewd in it’s beauty, with vapid flowers and rocks the color of red soft flesh. Huge girthed willows whisper names so familiar you could believe one to be your own. And between roots drifts water milked clean of dirt, feeding towards the slick lips of waterfalls. But the creatures are hollow. Clinging below on branches, claws and talons gripped on a hair trigger. Like bats they hang, birds, beasts, dogs perhaps even something magical if your eyes are sharp enough. But danger comes, as look too closely you will see a split in their skulls from widows’ peaks to the base of their necks. They contain no organs, no blood to drip from their wound. And perhaps you have thought what being a wolf may feel like, what songs you would wind if you had the lungs of a sparrow. In this place you would find that answer. Just stare long enough into an empty skull and listen for the click of a trigger. A shichk as these skins release themselves from their mother trees, to fill, no longer hollow, with you. Stitched into a bird or wolf or beast from the widow’s peak to the base of your skull. And some say, near the depths lie the soft bodies of empty humankind, prime picked in every shade and sex. But only if one not be a frog before one gets there. Unless you wanted to be a frog, then congratulations.
Coyote lives in a glass closet. He fills the walls with words, wishful thoughts, documenting bruises and wounds, daydreams and expectations. From his place in the sand, the world filters through the gaps between the letters. And although Coyote is clever and well traveled his eyes see only outward. Never has he the chance to look at himself. He is careless, comfortable in being worldly. A critical beast who sees only the worlds flaws.
Then he witnessed the ache of a black storm. He was walking, alone, along the world’s edge. The ancients had warned against traveling so far from home, from the sacred mountains. But he was confident in his ability to find his way home, confident of his intelligence and fortitude. In this wild place the clouds turned ravenous and black. The type of storm that gnawed shapes into the mountain tops. The storm’s ferocity was so sever the rain sizzled along the tree tops. A flash of light was herald to his fear. That flash of light was the brilliance before the crater. To follow was the bang, the lead of a bullet to vibrate his bones. Coyote coward. Called for help, yelped for even a sliver of sunshine to cut though the darkness. But his howls were suffocated and squeezed by the thunder. He was alone, just as he was before and just as he had wanted to be.
Later, after the tempest, he saw it was day. The night had passed a few hours into the storm. The thunderclouds had lied, had inked the black clouds into depression even when sunlight played just above the tempest. Coyote survived. He pulled up his head and watched as the dark clouds fell docile, colored pale by the setting sun. Then Coyote first glimpsed flame. Not from the sky, but from the heart of a black touched tree. A memory of the tempest, a scar to reminded him of where he had been. He approached and watched it smolder. He smelled the electric smoke and stood transfixed.
Soon the day traveled into night. A full and heavy darkness, a mothering womb without the wind and that storm. It was then Coyote looked away from the smoldering flame nested inside the tree. Then, illuminated by the glow of the fire, Coyote saw his walls. And in the flickering Coyote saw what he had written before, those words dance over his fur, solid back lines, distorted, backwards, only a precious few were beautiful. And for the first time he saw himself, his thoughts and hopes and dreams. He saw his foolishness inked across his paws. Found that his insecurities were half hidden things, written on transparent walls.
Image: Chicago Library
These spectors who follow behind
seek to prove we are villains.
And while running, I contemplate many things.
Mostly of the shadows,
because each face favors a different feature.
From friends before they were lovers,
father before his drowning and mother
before she drew back her raft.
From sisters who like me,
slither between spaces with electric eyes
from shorted circuits.
And I prefer an empty road,
broad in the horizon before us
because no one follows to remember who we left behind.