Lake Leavings, by Brinson Leigh Kresge
A three-year-old’s preamble:
Let’s talk about ants.
Ants can walk. Ants don’t have feet.
Ants have feet but no hands,
No fingers, no nails. Ants turn to liquid
When they crawl across something.
Liquid across skin as they try to eat skin,
but skin is already dead. Sleep. Eat. Go to sleep.
Wolves turn into bad dogs and crawl around
and eat people.
Would you rather talk about ants?
Spiky elephants crawl on people.
The spikes hurt. Try to get the spikes out
and the blood gets out. And the guts get out.
Elephants climb on climbing ants, but
Ants eat elephants. They dress them up
Like ladybugs. But we already talked about that.
This is the rest.
Animals draw. If they can draw. Most animals don’t
have hands. They draw paper. With crayons.
Wolves eat, but we are talking
about elephants. Humans die.
When animals die, humans eat them.
I drew a pen. And became a ladybug.
As you fall asleep, I tell you about your birth. That you were born,
here, in this bed at the will of a full moon quieted by clouds until the
dark became night. The rain drives, palpitations on the roof.
I came to realize your name in the seventh month
you pressed into me, broadened me. Like a name, you conveyed a before
that inclined towards what came after. Your name meant driftwood
and then you were born half in the water and half out. After which, but still
early on, you seemed a weathered soul in fresh flesh, knowing the
continuity of life. Knowing the seven minutes where you should have died.
Later, in the streetlight glow strained through window slats, you howled.
Determined howling, as if to call back to your birth moon. Hours became nights
and over and again, I was carried off on the longing in your cries, returned
to the abandon of that night. Breath rushing my ears.
Sticky cool sheets. And beyond, the door of those seven minutes. A pause,
spilling into a distilled silence that threads the seen and unseen. I could hear you,
even then, in the quiet carved space within me, your growing ink pool
pupils alive and howling through the deafening rain drive. And so
you lived, as if caught in my savageness, the animal you
surviving so that a more subtle marrow could unfold. Could sense through
the lens of your form. Now you speak, and in the same bed, you tell me
the story about the birth of the nature of things, how life moves,
from one thing and into another. Then you tuck in your
ladybug wings and sleep. The looking glass beneath your lids
slipping back into the space behind, a resolving wake.
In pregnancy, I invited a lake’s guidance, the calm deepness
welling up, your essence, into you. Now, I search your
reflection for answers. I ask,
Where do we go when we die?
We are placed in a boat,
we go from this side
across the sea to that side and slam.
Your hand strikes your other hand.
We go back to this side again. (Another strike,) slam.
I must know what then.
Someone brings you out.
I believe you. I see you still knowing. Knowing the
seven minutes where you should have died. Knowing the
something inside of me that did die. When you lived,
you laid across my chest, your placenta pumping my blood into you
until it went cold and dark, like an entity drowned,
placed in a boat and
sent across the sea.
Brinson Leigh Kresge is adjunct faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University where she teaches movement and meditation. Her writing and her spiritual practices merge the mundane with the infinite, often through the investigation of impermanent form. Her writing has been published in Visual Verse and Found Polaroids and has appeared in mix-media art presentations in the States and Osaka, Japan.
Ryan James studied Creative Writing at Western New England University. Since graduating in 2014 he has mostly lived the double life of a writer. But he journeys into the visual world every so often. A story can be told with a picture as easily as it can be told with written words. When snapping photos, Ryan likes to try to capture things as they are. This is his debut art publication.