The Sky falls and breaks its back

The possibility of assumption ended when the sky fell and broke his back. Even after the fact, they felt there ought to have been a crash, a sound, something more than quiet dream distortion to designate the change, but there was nothing. There was only the sky, who had fallen, and in total silence his spine had cracked.

There is so little ground on the earth. Whatever ground there is, they fill with their toys and bellies and ideas, a maze of tripping hazards and military traps. But the balance between up, where the expanse of the sky stretches full of possibilities, replete with drops and streams, and below, where things pretend to have a certain density, where they accumulate and squirm, that balance is just about steady.

In falling, the sky dragged down with him the moon and clouds and stars embedded in his fabric. Even the sun came down in shreds. The fall left flying birds dumbfounded, suspended at first, then dropping as if cut loose from their strings. The stars hidden in the violent blue rolled onto the ground like small, sharp gears, and lay there dumb as birds, cumbersome and worthless in a world of reduced floorspace.

For a while, no-one knew how to react, so they continued their upward staring, as they were used to doing, but upwards had now vanished. Their eyes quickly hurt from staring into nothing. 

They felt there had to have been a warning. Until the instant of the fall, the sky had seemed to exist up there firmly, with so much self-evidence. His formidable expanse was the backdrop to a dance of clouds, to the trajectories of birds and flying machinery. He was the backlit tarp on which the changes of the day appeared, and his position up there was beyond question, synonymous with the very concept of upwardness.

They never assumed that the sky might merely have been hanging there, in precarious suspension, himself devoid of the sovereignty he projected. It didn’t occur to them that the sky was perhaps holding on just barely. They could not have conceived such a reality, because what they assumed in their daily lives was that the sky was up there in a fundamental way, that the sky’s very location defined what it meant to be ‘up’, and made ‘looking up’ possible in the first place.

When the sky fell, there was nothing left up there but sudden empty space, and looking up felt like going blind. Below, there was too much. Not only had the clouds and sun and moon all fallen, but below was the only thing in existence; there was no more up as an alternative to below. Below was everything, up had vanished, leaving below crammed full of being. The ground was littered with objects and notions that hadn’t been there before. The weight of things was out of kilter, and there were all these questions all of a sudden, questions they couldn’t answer and needed to ignore.

The state of things was this:

The sky had broken his back, and they had to figure out what to do.

The sky was in pain.

They knew this, but they weren’t sure how, because the sky never said a thing. 

They weren’t old enough to drive, so they called an ambulance. Within fifteen minutes, its blue lights were licking through the cold windows of the second floor and covering the walls of the world with a fake, insufficient blue that wouldn’t fix a thing. A blue that seemed an imposter sky, impossible now that up had vanished. With a howl, the ambulance took the sky to the hospital.


The hospital is a Catholic hospital with white insides; it is a place that takes care of your body because bodies are gifts, vessels bestowed by God who creates them from clay, or maybe only the prototype was clay, they’re not sure. All of this is confusing to them because they weren’t raised religious, the sky never mentions God at all, God who some say made bodies so that more bodies could grow from them. The sky barely ever talks about bodies, the sky is all mind, so their understanding of the body’s abilities is a puzzling dearth of detail, a flat mass.

And now the sky lies in a hospital that believes in God, a kind of church with needles and respirators, and constant binging sounds, a place named after some saint, dark wooden crosses nailed above every door.

The sky was always so quiet about God that those living under his expansive tarp began to develop a fascination with what was kept from them, pieced together a vague idea based on snippets of stories, and tried folding their hands and asking for ponies, for rainy days, for specific kinds of desserts. They once entered a church out of curiosity and saw nails driven through skin, they wanted to scream but the echo licking the painted blood stains scared them into silence, and around them all this metal and stone cradling a disappointed parental spirit. They fled back to the world of home, with its clean lines and absence of divinity.

The sky is wheeled into one of many rooms with a dark cross above the door. In hospitals, the body is an innocent machine; in church it is the gift given through sacrifice.

They visit the sky in his white room. From a nurse, they learn later that the sky has left his bed twice since he arrived, in spite of specific orders not to move. The sky drags himself to the door, takes the man on the cross off the wall and put them both in a drawer. Each time, a nurse returns the object to its place.

The sky sits up sulking in his bed in the terrible way only something eternal can.

They wonder why the sky, with all his power, never just takes the man off the cross, separating flesh from wood, and puts him, only human, unadorned, into a hospital bed by his side to allow his wounds to heal. If his wounds could heal, they think, maybe the man could love again; he could go out bowling, enjoy the company of others, and he could give more of himself to the world than by hanging on a cross. They wish the sky could heal the man of his isolation up there on the mountain of his cross, make him into a person again, but something tells them nobody in the world is capable of such a feat.


Camel speaks truly only by means of quiet humidity. The wet babble of her armpits is the cause and expression of her heart’s distress. In the dark folds, two mouths speak in wordless streams.

Camel’s eyes are glassy, two spheres rolling along a wet road, they pick up the blue sheen of fallen rain, turning its flat shadow into spherical gloss.

A snowball is known to make snow curve around its centre; a dung ball pushed by a beetle picks up in rounded layers the excrement that makes its bulk.

Camel is leaking. Her emotion has turned her into a sieve, her skin is the cloth cradling a sweating cheese. At all times, Camel is covered by a vulnerable sheen, which catches from afar the eyes of the approaching, exposing to them her nature. There is no chance of deception.

Camel, beheaded, spends a day without coffee and feels her eyelids throbbing, her eyeballs rolled like dough between the two hot palms of her temples.

A man she knows, perhaps remembers from a stronger bond, sits down two rows ahead of her, closer than Camel to the cinema screen, and Camel shuts her rolling eyes to avoid being recognised by the back of his head, which she remembers cradling in her lap, his face looking up at hers with features hinting at the words, I can’t wait to spend my life with you, Camel, I can’t wait to see your eyes open next to mine each dawn. Later, the man’s features changed, became unreadable, and Camel felt as though she had gone blind.

Camel sees the clouds bunch like struggling tissue underneath the belly of the plane on which she sits in order to escape. A river circles her torso, curling down her flanks like a tongue trying to lick the hurting parts of her.

Camel’s eyes are tethered shut by the elastic filaments of sleep, but she sees through the gaps when she concentrates on the metallic shudder she sits within, the jolts fed into her body by the chair, and barely the length of your forearm between her and the hungry, bright blue void out there.

Birdearth and Boudmo

Birds pull worms from the wet earth, loosening the seams that hold the world together. The world is fabric made from disparate pieces sewn into a unified joy, but the birds pulling at worms unstitch the composition, cause the continents to drift apart in island shards, and the body too splits in half along a winding seam, the soft drapes of its flesh now open in raw edges, budding with teeth. Two matching rows of teeth, zipped down and apart by the irresistible force of aching beaks. The teeth chatter to reveal their presence, unheard because no ear has time when the mouth is open. The teeth try to clamp back down on their mirror peers but cannot reach, and in their yearning they shudder like cymbals, like sequins on a spinning dress.


In other news, I never seem to get sick of this:

Funeral Bee [Prelude to Sibel]

It is cold and behind the hills the golden rays have turned to rust. The party is over. The men are groaning corpses on the couch, men you herded into our house using the sway of your hips, wordless promises they followed like a trail. We trip over them on our way to the fridge. You see me sitting in a corner, my small body compressed so as to appear invisible, not making a sound, and for a moment your eyes aren’t those of a mother.

Darling, you say, be a good girl and show them out.

You disappear to your bedroom with a carton of milk and leave me in the midst of your men. I unwrap myself from my arms and get up. I look down at the discarded, watch the slow breathing of carcasses.

My body is still shorter than yours, but I have been growing, my frame is light, my limbs are skinny. Your hips are rounded, your thighs heavy with sap. They are not my hips or thighs, but if genes are anything to go by I will one day grow up to look just like you.

The men hang around the corner store by the handful, one faceless buzzing cloud, and you sail through them, the sway of your hips a sticky imprint on their heat-worn minds. You feel their humid breath graze your skin, their abdomens pulling towards you, ready to sting. You laugh them off every time. You make a game of it, but never a commitment, until one day one of them is not like the others, and you let him in. Into your mind, into our home.

His dart shot straight into you, sealed you up like heavy wine. Nailed you shut like a coffin.

After him there were many others, but it wasn’t the same. Because he had been different and they were not. They sailed through our house, our lives, in and back out, rubbed against you, against our food and furniture, they stayed for dinner, some of them stayed the night.

Then autumn came and the cold washed them out, they faded with the light, sometimes leaving half-smoked cigarettes next to the couch, sticky fingerprints on a glass, taking cash with them, or the contents of the fridge. Corpses with pockets as deep as their ability for love was shallow.

Take them out, you tell me. You don’t even bother to whisper, pointing at them like residue. The sit and blankly stare, the patterns on their skin are spinning, the colour fading from their eyes. They are bodies but already they barely exist.

We’re not a hotel, you say, because what we are is a hive, your hips the hive from which we came, my sister and me and our home in its entirety, you hold us all between the bones of your hips, in the exact midst of being held and being crushed. Your hips could hold a universe, and to us, they do, they hold a home.

In springtime, when the men are strong you need them close to you, and in summer you indulge their presence, and when the light starts growing dim and their strength starts to fade so does your patience. Their wings now fail them, their faces incapable of kissing, of even a smile. I drag them to the door with diligence, their heaviness strapped to my tender back, I carry them over the threshold of our hive and I let go.

In the cold rushes of early winter air I watch their bodies tumbling down along the street, further and further away from the hive, removed from our home like a stain, tumbling down through the dark air into what cannot be other than a void.