Sloane Scott is a freshman English major at Northwestern University in Evanston,
Illinois (U.S.A.). She is never without her thesaurus.
the boys raised on melville
the boys raised on melville rode their fathers to the poorhouse, stunk of
sweet river bass caught belly upward and gasping to be drowned as they were
from birth onward wherein they learned that some fish are not mammals. some fish are
soft-bodied chordates. many of them went unschooled still faithfully loving the
classroom and showing up sideswept indecent, chewing sugar and sugar tobacco,
spitting tar up and down the blackline or a county perimeter of gasoline a match could
fall any which way and still catch fire. nine times out of ten when a fish is hooked
and reeling it has already acquiesced to the weight of the fisher's thumb. no small body
is under the impression it will not swallow the worm whole, they are too well
educated reading novels under the moonlight under the kelp. children marked
by their youth split pages apart of their waterlog, learn the numeric way to rank
a corpse by its magnesium or smell. the aquatic industry isn't what it used to be. we hung
the qualifiers of significance from the lighthouse, we flashed them brightly when a
catch could feed a family. to make a meal requires more than one bad metaphor, sometimes
a disaster, sometimes two.
my braids fell to the floor because
i cut them there, like one cuts the image of strayed sheep
out of heart felt-patterned familial albums of which
there is no utility. nothing belonged to me until i got rid
of it, until i set it afloat entirely separate, entirely septic,
from the bracken that aligns a clean waterway.
failure of a certain variety is addictive. only the
fortunate entertain predigested worms for a meal, can afford
to peel them from their skin, and slow, and careless,
they are suckered to the finest of our hairs, babies.
i did not know what the past imperfect was until i studied
another language more respectful of the architecture
of the tongue, under which my mother's mother
checked for the lingering present i could never fully
hide in time to swallow, now,
she said, the volume of an antihero is far quieter. it will
kill you if you aren't aware of your sound. but i was small
and bald, and told her that ants couldn't be heroes if
they were not human. years later, at her funeral, the earth
was just big enough for her body, and ants were
the largest population in attendance. the consequences
of being born. it is your fault. the sperm of you outrunning
millions. today (now) you are the slowest of the fastest
and cannot even swim.
when i set you down the river, i said, when i set you
down it was the natural first step, the pattern of a sewing
machine and its thread. its thread, its thread, with which
i could never finish making that dress,
or finish dressing myself, start undressing myself, until i
witnessed the singular pinkness of those slime invertebrates
splitting themselves in two, such to appear a second thought,
and how asexual of the worm to be a letter off from
warm, how romantic the blush of its body.
and what of myself in the soil? finally righteous, and no one
could tell me i was low on hot water, and time was of the inessence.
so however the length, surely it will stay there imbedded,
in bed, in bed, we hark the birds to their defenses, and
they go low, and are slow.
what do you see when you close your
eyes. eyes the size of little fists
shaking down the girth of god. god
was a woman who made man, she said
i am becoming an aging president. an
aging precedent. she said apart from me
are dogs scratching their claws at the
ants that itch your shoulder. cold.
when i give you this i have given myself
first. she said hello. i am coming sooner
than expected. i wrap your hands in jam,
i treat them lightly. she said the candle
burns brightly and is more holy at
the end that sobers both. she asked.
can you guess which one is mine.
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