Can’t bring my hands near to the glassy eyed doe. Two dead ones in the day, downy tufts of fur blanketing the trail 10 feet from the carcass. Step onto the nest, a soft white belly. Something motherly and soporific. The sky pinkens; rain pools in the hollow made by the uprooted oak. A new born fawn is bubble gum stuck to the pearly ribcage. A man scavenges beside me for new centaur parts, snaps off the hooves.
I glimpse the shadow of something clowning beyond the bend. The laughing face recedes, a swirl of white powder and red and yellow silk, stark against the earth and foliage, twisting a paper flower in his fingers. The 0 trump is faded in my pocket. The forest laughs and shivers; I turn into a night time meadow where the air is cool. Ink drenched. I am looking for 0. A hollowed out reed of horsetail for a pen. I’ll write him letters on my skin, I won’t speak. My walking stick is swallowed up in orange waves of witch’s fungus; it descends down my legs and wriggles in my boots.
There are tiny ripples of shame after the expansive feelings of dissolution. You emerge from the air of this forest and then you have to have to get dressed, have coffee the next morning, reestablish the distance. The clock is an incision, you scramble for a taste on your tongue to assuage the cut. You taste the inky air, feel the knife flutters in your ribs.
Then a small sweet morsel of a cinnamon thought comes when you’re alone over your notebook and you are back here, in the soft dead underbelly of things, the downy white like waves of opiate tea flushing you soft as cotton. Trees netted in spider lace. A magnetism in no direction. A craving for a tart taste, the smell of minerals and a dull pulsing you follow until it is located somewhere in your chest, in your cunt. You’re here again. This meadow is a museum, the guards stand in tail coats and wolf masks, bark at me.
An elementary school diorama of a barbie doll Joan of Arc clad in tin foil armor. A skeleton key dangles above my brow, deep in thought, in search of a lock. My diary lock has incised a groove in the tree branch, a decade old. The wolf masks bark and I, too nervous to eat, grow knobby and wooden on berries and nuts. I am a bug of thin and damp wood. There is vulnerability in what whittles you down, in love and illness. “They hate us girls, us love sick, swallowing”, gurgles the fluttering thing in the swamp of my throat: a red cardinal slicked in dandelion bile.
In the forest I cull paper folded flowers damp with saliva; they bloom from blue black meadows; from the hearts of hagstones; the night riddled things. They are for 0.
The petals hiss through the cognac spit of my peasant grandmother that this forest is a nest for me, I who am of a broken glint. If I stay I can be a glittered little bird,fed and faded and plump. But I must go and collect friends or characters for the carnival, for the pretty mark on my calender. I have plans. I am frugal. I walk with my socialite friend whose silhouette follows me through the swirling bark and the shifting earth. The dirt drawn devil, a jovial feathered fellow with pupils of crusted blood. Always scribbling himself into existence. He has a sad grin but no silk. Better than a real boyfriend.
He walks ahead of me, taking the thorny brambles and whipping them into my arms.
We come upon a woman’s hips jutting from a birch. Her split trunk is pregnant with a litter of dapper white rabbits, crawling like maggots. The tree is covered in a patina of short white fur, she moans her labor pains into wind gusts. But tomorrow morning we will wake to distance and the red pupils of my devil will fade with the harvest moon. Alone with the taste of coffee and dandelion root bringing up bile into my cursive. The forest teaches us to write it, it teaches us to swallow it up and become girl werewolves for our culture. They understand monsters, we go back to the forest. We are always receding. I compulsively recede, I must always go away.
“ Pay attention” says the birch mother.
An extinct laughter shakes the place and I turn my head to search for the fool, for the beginning or the end of the path. My consort and I learn to speak our bodies in gusts and in swirling bark. The forest undoes us love sick, us swallowing. Extinct love blooms up through the hearts of hagstones. I finger the gaps in the lace of my mask, jeweled with tiny brown spiders.
We take a stillborn rabbit for our dinner, the devil and I, soak it’s organs in honey, steal it’s pocket watch, cook it over a low flame. We make quite a pair. I am enchanting in my lace and witch’s fungus. The devil is charming with his sad grin, a jovial friend to have; he lusts after birds, angels, anything with wings. Not me. He shakes the sky with laughter and they topple right down into his lap.
I want so badly to be like my companions, to blur my edges in some way. I am looking to die or fuck or give birth but I don’t know how. I don’t know how. So we go to a party. I am looking for 0 because anything plus 0 equals itself, so if we have sex I can still be me. Or anything times 0 turns into it, so I could be swallowed up entirely which is what I really want when feeling this drunk on just the air, the smell of decomposing leaves.