I sit in the shade of a beard tree until the sun inevitably dries itself up. Of course our eyes quickly evolve to produce their own light, though light was never a thing you believed in. The beards which hang from the branches grow so long they wrap themselves around me in a hug that I don’t necessarily try to refuse. Thin grey hairs weave into my pores, and now I wear the follicles like a suit.
I am swinging on the beards of my ancestors. The echo of all the words you never told me comes roaring over the hill like a fire, and my beard-tree and beard suit disappear to a cloud of memories as though they were never there. My legs run away from me, ashamed. They’ve been conspiring about it for years. My top half is left confused, lying on the hill, wondering if it will ever be able to file a tax return now that its legs have divorced him.
I am carried by the waves of sound produced by the echo. It doesn’t sound like you – it sounds like a gorilla that’s fluent in Finnish but just starting to learn our language, which has yet to be confined to a dictionary – but it’s saying all the things you never said but might have, if only the paper that morning hadn’t come to life and re-enacted what you were reading.
After that I stopped reading and watching the news. There’s not much to be afraid of in a world that’s populated by chestnuts, which is where I find myself now.
Take me back to the era where we lived in upside-down cottages on the undersides of horizontal cliffs. I miss the constant possibility of falling. The constant possibility of anything can be appealing. It’s worth it to have something you know you can always depend on, even if all it is is a possibility.
The darkness is its own blinding light, and I think I could learn a thing or two from that. I squint myself into a new birth, and when I open my infant eyes I see the legs that once held me back have returned, begging my forgiveness. Instead, I give them the advice you once gave me.
“Talking is a form of non-physical dancing. You’re taking up too much air. Life.”
One of the legs, the left, kicks the other, and then the right leg returns the attack. I’m glad my inner battle was confined to my legs before they left. I’m not sure my top half could have endured what they did to each other. In the end, all that remained was a pile of paper cuts and purple bodily fluids. I can taste them just by looking at them, hearing them, and they disgust me. I tuck in my arms and let myself roll down the hill, and this causes the world to start turning as well. Neither of us have stopped yet. It’s like a kind of contest. If he wins, I become him. If I win, I get to leave.
One can only endure a chestnut world for so long without developing an intolerance. This makes me think of us. How long could we have gone before giving each other swollen tongues?