What They Say

They say she was born in the mossy overgrowth of a cabin given to the elements, during the monsoon season so the tide was way up when she came into the world: a blanket of water not yet tucked in. They say she muddied walls into murals and sang so the birds couldn’t tell if she was one of their own or not. They say her pulse traveled the lines of the vines and hummed on the roots so even the burrowing beetles knew the way she was feeling. They say she sharpened sticks with her teeth and set fire to what she spat. They say she never hunted, but cooed the animals to the traps, that she pet their furs into muddy clumps as they cried and let out breath. They say she leapt from cliffs without a sound and entered the water in silence too, like a call and response that was all in your head. They say she broke the bones into shards of dust and projected them into the night, when the wolves were out but not quite howling, only half-crying so she wouldn’t find them. They say she’s the vein in every leaf and the slush that gathers in the toes of your boots; the chill that the fire can’t banish. They say she collapsed trains to their sides like wounded horses, wheels blinking light into her eyes as they spun and her bare feet eased themselves into dirt; the way her teeth shaped the night.

They say the day she found him in the ditch the sun didn’t rise for fear of blinding her; she collected him onto her shoulders and glided through filmy water so his arm trailing waking waves looked to be connected to its underworld self, and she had no reflection to speak of. They say she fed him sweet seeds and burrs that stuck in his stomach for years till his body eclipsed hers, the nest she crafted for him. They say she let his blood into the water, on the rocks she brought for him, shaped to hearts. They say they took turns splintering the rocks for fire, first him then her. They say the rain dipped low to grass and swam away back and past clouds, thunder erasing itself and putting something else in its place. They say the night blanketed them for forty years or more, with the stars inside winking away and the rumble of the ground coming from everywhere, till the roar was all you could hear. They say when the day finally broke neither of them could be found, only felt, in the way you might dip toes into water, distorted under there, larger, and the way water makes you feel bigger than yourself. Like a soul’s puppet made real.

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