I DO NOT KNOW WHEN OBJECTS STARTED SCREAMING,
but I remember the texture of its curling and the duration of its punishment. Tearing off the bark of a tree would emit a whimper, and driving became a chorus of wails from concrete pores. I had never yearned for silence until my father leapt into it, embraced by the roar of his engine. Slipping under the scene of scattered metal was a faintly-volumed sipping: blades of grass consuming his crimson. Nature was taking us back, and I could only witness her hunger.
Sister, break my bread for me. I don’t sleep anymore. Instead, I walk. My feet drag callouses into the soil as I listen my way into the heart of the forest, coveted by the appetite of shadows. Finding approval in my nature, a string of groans lures me into an opening in the thicket; the sun bleeds through holes in hanging indigo as a silver plate melts into the horizon. No space for pondering. I sink myself into its solution and let my pores widen for sound. She kisses my innards where they bruise and mimics the sensation of fullness.
I have been spared from punishment. For now. She whispers to me of Parisian delicacies, thin limbs tasting of sweetness, and the emptiness inside her. I carry it between the lining of my stomach when I feign eating at the dinner table. Sister, when did you become so plump? Grinding rocks between molars for reprieve, I think I should give into silence as well, but I know she will not allow it. When the crust of the world breaks, I will be the last of its cravings.
This is not the space for me. This is
hands wet, feet marooned, back bent
into obedience. Have you been listening
to the news? Anchors in blue depths
told me Pluto brings back news from its
banishment, and humanity only sighs
at discovery: what a shame this is tile
floors gone cold, twilight absence,
the silence between greeting and
parted lips, fingers made for plucking
evidence of intimacy from gums
discarding affection into the barrels of
guns to be shot into the black of ribs.
Tuck your hands, then I will know this is
when I barter for the lining of oak trees —
thirty cents for a bit of your skin, mister, but
do not question me when I lift my eyes to
redwood, my grace drifting towards how
aching bulges outwards and sinks into itself,
pulsing to the breath of wet wind. Watch
bark fold hands into innocence in the
shape of feathers crimsoned by sight, and
realize that I, too, once gained from loss.
From behind the ivory bars of a bird cage,
remind me of what this is.
Florianne Che is a student located in Illinois. She is an IYWS and Kenyon Young Writers alum.