It was as the floods were coming in and the steam burning through the windows that we gripped our spades in our teeth and climbed into the mouth of the mountain to build secret homes for the seeds. We did not know each other, or we thought we did not.
We had not been born in the same places. We had never spoken words the others recognized. In the flood, trying to get out of the city, we had found ourselves in a tangle of unmatched tongues and car tires spinning wretched against the finally wet, so wet, too wet soil. Cacauphony. An unwieldy din.
But there was a language we held common, a thing that drove us madly into the hills soaking and coughing, our pockets full of sunflowers and fava beans. Call it the language of fertility. The rhetoric of rot. Of reimagining. Call it insanity. Call it a failure to bite down and trudge the proper path and save the proper thing. Call it disease or dis-ease or dissonance or dismantling, all.
Whatever name, we had it. We were, first and foremost, the ones who got out, some privilege and a dash of chance. And we were also ones who knew that the story of what-to-do-in-case-of-disaster was just a made thing, a stitched thing, an invisible lawbook, something written by five-fingered-hands in one very specific language for one very specific purpose. That the disaster itself was a story too, a made thing, a written thing. And we were the ones who knew story could, just as easy, be torn up, dug up, re-stitched, by hands, by briars, by sharks’ teeth snagging. We were the imaginers. The anxious creators, for whom no law is obvious and no story a static end. We had no set idea of how precisely to respond to a flood. We were not wed to any particular conversation with G_d about the monogomous needs of animals on large boats that wait out storms. Neither were we looking to save the microwaves.
And we were the ones that had no children. Or whose children had already gone. To the waters, to the white and hungry guns, to the longing. We were the ones who had no seeds.
So we found some. In the backs of our closets, in the corner stores standing ankle-deep in water, in the jars on the tilting kitchen shelves. And we gripped our spades in our teeth, and we looked sideways as the streets began to buckle and fold into foothills, and we saw each other limping, and rolling, and running, pockets spilling over with hard-shelled children, with descendants of future trees, and we reached out as we ran, and we gripped each other’s hands in our hands.
It was the queerest thing, like a bird in love with a sturgeon, a family of defectors, arms empty of objects and pockets emptied into soil above the water line, saving no wealth or infrastructure, saving the wrong things. A re-kindling, a re-kinning, a reckoning. All this dying, it has been beyond swallowing. All those bodies, they came home to the soil. And so we gave them children. Hard-shelled and root-bound. It was a kind of making love to the dead. We slipped seeds into their pockets. Their bodies fertile, already almost soil, meeting the beans, the walnuts, the pits we plunged in to the wet ground. The rhetoric of rot. The true nature of kinship: all things becoming other things. Hidden in the mountain, learning each others’ languages, guarding, guardening, waiting for the first roots, those parts of the plants called “radical,” to unfurl their faces into the soil.
Copyright 2016 Rachel Economy