The Midwest |


by Meghann Rotary

edited by Anna Prushinskaya

Editor's Note: This story is part of Joyland's Michigan stories series. Come back throughout April for more Michigan stories.

“On the other side then” “torrential against the shape of rain”
“I met everyone on behalf of” “the child who brought me here”
“The ground caves in at spots” “and beneath the streets are
seasons” “with their own rooms” “These must be the barracks,”
“where the whole situation sleeps and speaks” “in tongues”

“A man comes to me” “with patches on his eyes”
“he has already been here” “behind me” “for years”
“He says” “ ‘Brother, it has been a long time’”
“I remember:” “this is a place” “outside of gender”
“I should not have called him ‘him’

“The story is told” “of someone’s relative” “who died here
last spring” “There is war going on” “a dying war” “down
the road” “it is fought for ideas of lifelessness” “and dressed
like a parade” “with characteristics of language;” “having a trial
of dialogue” “with the memories of the dead” “A small place”
“sits heavily on the Past”

“Reinforcements now” “are brought in” “to teach the visitors”
“how to change faces” “without getting caught” “in subtraction”
“In the next dream (the next face”) “I find my child”
“my son” “only he is not the same son” “He says” “ ‘This place” “is all
fevers’ ” “ ‘But what about me?’ ” “ ‘This is my” “empty house,”
“you can have it too’ ’’

“ ‘You are” “so young” “right now’ ” “I say” “ ‘I am just” not breathing’ ”
“son says” “watching the forest” “burn from” “inside” “ ‘In this slow oxidation,”
“there is heat,” “there is no flame or light” “This is what everything” “looks like” “towards the bottom” “Does that” “happen to you?’ the child voice asks”
“ ‘I mean” “behind glass sometimes,’ I say” “ ‘That’s it?’ he asks”
“ ‘That’s it’ ” “ ‘What is then oxidizing?’ ” “I think,”
“ ‘Everything” “in its own way’ ”

“That skirt-woman is here” “wearing a mask of sequins and toothpaste”
“I am afraid of her lower lips,” “their problematic” “texture and skin”
“Like always” “on ice” “or something” “less” “She moves” “she"
“sort of takes into consideration” “what it is like” “to breathe” “I like her
because” “she cleans” “everything” “that’s not hers” “She must not remember;”
“the next time” “I see her” “she’s not” cleaning anything” “I am awake”
“but delayed” “She has asked me to” “guard something important”

“in the shadows of” “myself:” “a future child” “from my world,”
“the Future” “We exchange” “faces,” “a cold” “healthy feeling” “Now we are”
“free radicals:” “an heiress and” “a soldier,”  “with the heaviness of being
under Denebola” “in the fixed movement of the trees” “They bend to
show something of their situation to the sun” “and then stretch no more”

“The skirt-wielding woman held us up” “from the storm of light”
“that came from the world,” “so we are grateful again” “She says”
“ ‘It was” “the first lunar eclipse” “since 2010’ ” “ ‘You mean the last”
“lunar eclipse—until” “2010?’ ” “ ‘No” “I mean” “what I said”
“I will determine” “this Time” “since it is” “my own’ ” “ ‘Only—”
“it is also my own’ ” “ ‘Everybody’s” “moon is different’ she says”
“ ‘I will do” “what you say,” “I will” “share this Time—”
“only” “not right now’ ”

“From this high up” “you can see” “that the animals are” “different”
“It is still unclear” “who will rule the world” “in 100 years:”
“people or rats” “All animals need food” “of some kind”
“That woman comes back with” “a large belly”
“full of blood” “She has only half” “of a face,” “everything else is
just” “temperament” “She looks like me” “only” “more solid”

“Today the parades stop” “A severe dialogue was had” “that made the
characters” “feel very finite” “I think I know” “how it must burn”
“I can see the toll” “the storms have taken” “on the grain of his skin”
“Somewhere” “someone dies in the night” “ ‘What machines do you see”
“looking into science?’ Other asks” “ ‘I heard your Master” “spoke with
my Master’ ” “ ‘And what was said?’  ” “ ‘I couldn’t make it out”
“you just gotta wonder” “what they’re talkin’ about’ ”

“ ‘The way he died” “makes everything” “un-happen’ ” “ ‘You know,”
“people are starving” “everywhere,’ says Other” “ ‘Okay”
“but I can’t,’ my voice says” “Another day perhaps resides within winter”
“Upon Io or” “a natural recombination” “of wild viruses”
“ ‘I know” “it’s as if” “I can’t do anything” “within the obscenities”
“of my gender’ ” “ ‘There’s so much silence,’ she says”
“ ‘It’s not my fault” “everybody’s moon is” “different’ ”

“ ‘There are balloons” “of the places the heart should be,’ ” “she says”
“ ‘in which” “people turn” “like short stories” “as serious as your life’
“I entered” “a playground of” “rags and” “execution” “undisputed but”
“a little holy” “This must be ” “Jupiter’s” “Spanish moon” “each corner
as” “a human corner,” “some fragment of Time” “I know”
“from the small of” “my stomach” “that I am mispronouncing”
“this borough” “and a knife or” “the notion of burning” “won’t change
he fact that” “I have lost my language”

“I like it here” “on this road” “this road to” “the death place” “I like it”
“when it gets cold” “down here” “Layers of sand and soil” “are pressed by”
“other layers of sand and soil” “The boy speaks” “with a throat-full
of jelly” “full of the jelly of” “the dying:” “ ‘What are you doing” “to my
rugged image?’ ” “ ‘I’m sorry” “I just thought—” “worms aren’t good enough” “company’ ” “ ‘I’m not lonely” “I’m just” “so dead” ” “ ‘You are ruining”
“my moments” “with your deadness’ ” “I am now” “watching myself” “happen”
“But I am” “30 seconds ago”

“In the safety corridor” “just North of” “Bushkill” “I prepare for trial”
“Keeping time” “with shadows and water” “I won’t deny,” “I’ve learned so much
from” “the charring of” “the Wilds” “It’s an exciting time in” “forestry”
“Burning as”  “subjective Time”  “ ‘The sun seems to move”
“because the Earth turns’ ” “A woman I spoke with once” “is on display,”
“discovered beneath the glass” “that flattens time” ‘‘ ‘Remember,’ she says”
“ ‘the Earth is turning” “all the time” “You seem to move, too”
“because the Earth turns . . .’ ”

“The race” “between the sun and moon” “is nourished by” “limits”
“I have limits” “of language” “Anyone get an” “erection” “from fear?”
“I too am often” “scared stiff” “by the extinguished trees:” “the rain that comes”
“every time” “someone dies” “I am so afraid of” “giving birth” “to something”
“Unlovable” “My rains will continue“ “into the night” “Gender comes back” “from under the glass”
“My sex is”  “an extremity” “and I am just” “a lady”

“The sun is like” “the Sirens” “always calling people out:”
“a fanaticism” “ that is Jesus’ fault” “A baby is being born” 
“in the Winter room” “A heart that beats” “all by itself”
“Today,” “eschatology is” “alive and well” “I can’t look at”
“this moment” “without considering” “the end”


Note from the author: The format of this piece was used in an attempt to recreate the pace of Alice Notley’s The Descent of Alette.