Thumbing through an Alice or Os Lusíadas, ELA could see the patterns on the pages pulsing and spreading in the pulp repeating the path asplafvt in violins vvobbling V e V redoubling ovos, bosons, dove beaks and dawn bells blooming V after V under pé e pedra where Afrodita sem crisálida was Nabia daydreaming mais uma vez como Alice no país das maravilhas ou através do espelho spilling patterns, oboes, tori, keys, elas in layers of ooze in waves in Vs in cantos rumbling open pops of absolute light aloft a limpid Nabia rambling again «lonely or lost again?» ((again?)) ELA wobbled ((again, again, but why do Nabias only boom through pigfat?)) and ((a fountain really is a filthy oracle)) and ((pigeon poop)) «lost again» ((again)) «where are your elder others?» ((others?)) «one cannot get far on little legs alone, little one» ((little one?)) ELA sprang from her seat and boomed aloud:
«my legs are thin and long!»
«but also strong and gory!»
«in today’s future I am brave!»
ELA picked up her duck, a rock, a shell, an Alice, a bamboo stick for scribbling, As Máscaras do Destino de Espanca, another Alice, sea glass, um bolo de chocolate, a bag of cat food, très penichenses, water in a tin cylinder, irises, pretzels, a watercolor piccadilly box, lilac, a book of matches from Café Oceano, canetas, cores, the Page of Wands, circles intersecting circles intersecting one by one by one SHE placed all but two inside a big jeweled purse and slung it onto her back like a randoseru. With her duck in one hand and the stick no outro ELA disse alguma coisa como «até a próxima, Nabia» which came back off the water as ««abia Nabia, a próximaté até»» Without thinking ELA reached into her purse then spun back to face a deusa da água and both reached out toward the other with a gift. Um bolo de chocolate with a silver candle for Nabia. E para FLORBELA, a living harmonica still dripping lucid chromewater globes on a semisphere of igneous rock.
«what’s next?» ««next?»»
«you know» ««no»»
«how to find them» ««them?»»
«how to get home» ««home?»»
«listen» ««listen»» «««in in in»»»
««in ripples count the ripples it pulls the ripples where you came rippling in came»»
ELA waited for what and when.
«to find them, play them, like this: themmmmmmmmmmmm»
ELA slowly brought the breathing harmonica up to her parted lips and paused, unpaused, then sweetly, softly, swordly, whispered the word but once but once the word hit the reeds the reeds took over twisting and tilling the twirling wind into twelve-way totems and ELA could feel her insides shifting and bending into combs and portals and peaking hard with the swirling wind until all was sound and SHE was scared.
Came to in a crowd of humans with signs and songs and shattering for the downpressormen in blue pushing into their circles at the seams SHE saw red stars and stripes on street signs and knew SHE was back in DC on G Street under false lights right where SHE’d started out six years back, softskulled and screaming over sirens. A small woman saw her there and shielded her and said sweet things and gave her water and masks and told her to take off running so SHE did but the screams and cracks and bricks and lights and barks and smoke and pops and whoops and shatter followed her down all the streets and alleys for blocks and blocks under bridges to the park the path the rooted mud in darkness where SHE lost her legs at last and crouched between a dying tree and a talking creek to catch her breath. Wheezing deep atop the babbling water SHE thought she spied the rising sun but it was just the city burning. SHE thought SHE should cry and did cry, wider and wetter than SHE’d cried since SHE was silt, but the city was still burning and SHE was shrinking or the tree and creek were growing, inch by inch by branch and fathom till FLORBELA was back in a wonderland wandering the mushroom fields with the slithy codes and Absolute wondering what was wheel and what was wrong.
«musssssshhhhhhhhh» mushed the mumblyunderrumblingwater.
«mmmmmmmmmmmm» muttered a muffled someone under mud.
«Mnemosyne? Z?» but nothing more than miscellaneous undermumblers made replay.
SHE fingered her bamboo stick and made grim faces for a few before rising high and saying something like «ART!» Narrating her process as SHE worked with the stick «INTAGLIO!» SHE cut two circles «EYES!» in the slurping mud and blinked they blinked they flashed awake a wide open welcome before softening down to slits in silence «MUSIC!» SHE sang and scored one more wider circle «MOUTH!» with tooth and tongue so it could sing so it could speak aloud adagio its voice was low and slow and full of love «muuuuuushy, it’s meee, pa ꞏ pa ꞏ ge ꞏ no, remember? birdman, your birdman» New tears enhanced the patterns down her dirty cheeks in heat SHE dropped onto her belly to hug the mud where sounds like sobs or giggles escaped her face he rounded out the words «muuuuuushy, I missed you» «me too, PG» with her finger in his forehead SHE drew another eye above the rest and with his mud SHE made a mirror on her brow to match «but … » SHE rose and wrote along the bank of the ballooning river what about her? «little hope for her, little dove, streaming for far too long now, no words can wake» ((no words can wake)) SHE wobbled ((((O words can wake)))) rewobbled and waited for it to click «LOVE!» so quick with the stick SHE slashed her little finger tip to knuck to knuck to palm and dipped it in the dirty water trembling there SHE watched agog as the river went red in ripples went red from bank to bridge to bridge and back in ripples SHE pulled her pinkie out clean and smooth and «healthy as a horse!» SHE whinnied aloud aloof and danced like a pagan under the black pebbled sky as the riverblood began to rise to rumble to bloom into a deusa da água to offer a hand of blood of truth of passage across all consciousness and «YES!» ELA said «YES!» and took the limpid hand in hers and «YES!» the clouds aligned and leapt to life with lights and tubes and doors and colors spinning calculus, ciphers, nine-eyed-nimbi-warm portals, open-coded línguas and laughter SHE was laughing languid learning the language of the wandering rocks as Papageno’s mangled roots arose to weave between her fingers and form a fist of feathers unfolding feathers in rows in sequence up her arms and down her spine until her wings were wide as wolves and waving in the winding air between the doors SHE closed her ears to hear the music of the sliding keys inside herself SHE saw them smiling.
Jesse Kominers lives in Mokošica, Croatia, with Morgan & Elsa. Jesse’s work has appeared in SHARKPACK Annual, Burnside Review, Meat for Tea, Thrice Fiction, & elsewhere.