Molasses

Written around a year ago. I thought I’d posted this already:

A lake spills out of his mouth sometimes. It’s sticky as tar, and it pours slowly like black, black molasses. A thousand little spiders cascade, their feet caught in it, crackling and angry. It happens when he hiccups, which is rarely, a gummy slough in the back of his throat. But it happens often enough that I can hear him coming.

He keeps to himself, stays far enough away, but he sleeps underneath the reeds and when the wind blows over them with its sleek, easy breath, the holes in his head whistle. It sounds like a lullaby for the frogs, but there are no frogs in that place. It might be a swamp. I’ve never been close enough to find out, but oh I can hear him whistling.

It’s a lyrical haunt.  He whistles as he walks, the grass sweeping aside. His stumps of feet suck in the mud like the earth was trying to keep us safe by holding him back. The ground puckers and slumps as he drags himself closer.

My quilt is a cold flap of second skin, useless against the bare-armed night and the ragged lungs of my bedroom. The whistling passes beneath my window sometimes, and I can see through my eyelids into his face, his vertical gash that sags and seeps and is nothing but a mouth.
And one night I can hear the frogs, though I know there are no frogs in that place. I think maybe he may have gone, but through my eyelids and into his mouth and through him too into something that might be the sky.

He is less than a nightmare but more than a dream, more than the slick of the trees and less than the heaven brushed above them. He hiccups, and my bedroom floods with the sickness of trapped spiders and raw water. Yes, there is something that might be the sky. It cracks, and a gob of yellow squeals through. It breaks, and he flees.

And nothing is left but the sound of the frogs, though I know there are no frogs in that place.

 

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