Sunday, October 5, 2008


He breathes because he cannot do otherwise. But the burden of it crushes him. He feels himself bending, stooping, hunched now like a giant under a mountain, grown stiff and still and utterly encumbered. He curls and wraps himself in his arms, clutching his head and neck as if expecting blows. But what can strike a giant? Only a mountain, and he is under one.

He grows gray as granite, his features harsh and sharp and deep, sheer plains and cold shadows. His skin cracks as the winters mount his sides and ice wedges into his flesh. Erosion, then, and trees take root in his back and his thighs, grow tall and then grow bare, and fall and fall like shedding hair, and he is naked again, like birth, wet and alien.

Light pushes at him as a wind, sun and stars, and every sound comes to him as a sighing. If he should shiver in the cold, the world would end. If he should cry out, the sky would fall. He remains still, afraid to wake the monsters that lie deeper under him and his mountain.

Something sharp like smoke is in the air. Since he cannot do otherwise, he breathes it in. What fire? Time burns everything.

There is an ancient tree at the peak of a peerless mountain, and it has its roots gnarled in the heart of the world. Every living creature comes and eats its fruit or its leaves or its bark, and all things nest in its branches or sleep in its shade. Deep in the bowels of the earth, a great serpent is knotted around the lowermost roots, dripping a venom that the roots absorb and pull up through the adamantine strata of rock, into the trunk and limbs of the tree.

Of course the air is full of smoke. The universe ends not as crystal, but ash.


bumped from 5/10/07

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