From ‘Narrator Air’ by Ujjal D Nihil
Any Man in the Field
Air reeking of limping dogs. Crowbar and scythe glinting in his hands. You wish. Grass and scythe duet. You wish. What you see: earth fissured to gulp a lake of hearts. What you see: bloodless heads bobbing on corn stalks. A drizzle of rain in a jar at the bedside. Cattle wrapped round his forehead. Somewhere in his ears; the lay of the land. Cuffed to his feet; sound of frisky trade, door creaking to snap the sky. Death of a million suns on his back. Cast of his smile thrown into the safety of clouds. Limbs set to fold into straw. Anytime. What passes hasn’t been paid enough. Something always passes. Something is always taxable. How is he to be deduced?
An act of kindness: his eyes, his eyes. Out. Out.
Then tell him what he stands near is a pond. Fish are flickering on its surface. Dense cloud blindfolds the hills, now his face. Tell him. Stand a little apart. Spit on his cheeks.
Whisper in his ears: rain.
This is it. Boys plucking their feet off endless mud. Tell him. Women held back by the wind, the trees. Fruits leaning into the bent shadows of huts. Tell him.
What you would believe if you read it somewhere: drying his sweat into crusts, then pulp, then fabric, to sew into blankets.
What you might feel: any language. Any language to make the country come off like an orange peel. Unseen and slick underneath. Like the burn was never there. Otherwise none. No letters. Anymore. Spell it wrong from now.
Someone passes. Someone taxes.
What you see: their hands folded and the newspaper swirling in bends of heat. The only TV in the square on fire. What you see: his lips twitching behind cattle ribs. What you see: his ribs knifing the horizon.
In such and such year such and such man in a field stared at such and such light and folded his fingers. In such and such night he turned to such and such creak of such and such beside him on such and such bed. In such and such news a few meals were turned over and such and such power spat a speech. In such and such law such and such mouths are thrown in the pyre. In such and such flames the mouths crackle and cities breathe. In such and such land he whispered isn’t this the same air, then why this worm in me? In such and such places they carried his limbs and flagged him on a tree. In such and such language there isn’t any tree or body. In such and such place his body is such and such and anything. In such and such dark they blindfolded his daughters and slit their hues. In such and such water his son is still swimming. In such and such room such and such is rubbing his hands across his belly. Such and such women are such and such. In such and such such and such demanded his knees, his scalp on the dirt. In such and such such and such demanded a picture of these. In such and such grey they pinned his face and told him he sees no such thing.
© 2011, Metazen.