A Stampede of Horses
Hooved and maned, teeth escaping gums, ears erect, the tonal hawing of panic. In the house now, through the door, filling rooms, the exit blocked. Floor dented, cut. Find a straight line to cut through the mass of them, their clumsy bodies too large next to the table. One falls, a great thud, legs flailing to right itself. Continue the line, step over, duck. What emerges? What kitchen ware can stand. The threat of crushing, the threat of dents. The window an opening, yet still solid, a wall. Move bilaterally, both right and left. The stampede is one unit, too large for the house. Still each animal moves itself or is stopped, tires or is soothed eventually.
Tree speaks in syllables, in static din, in a series of moments—this, and this, and this. Tree looks at tree for hundreds of years and notices growth and rot and what falls and climbs up it. Is this a mirror, thinks tree. A small branch sways side to side. By staying still things start to move. Tree expands to fill the earth and reaches for something beyond it. Silence is filled by internal mechanism—a heart drums unnoticed then is heard in its skip. A branch creaks like a joint where the cartilage wears thin. In the hollow of a trunk something lives. My hair grows thinner not from natural cycles but from something foreign within me. Foot traffic causes erosion causes landslides in protected forest. Preservation necessitates curbing—a compromise of small parts for the heart of the matter, for the heart’s continuity. Or a slow growing over hundreds of years.
A woman sits stitching the seams of her own chest. She pulls the thread tight and watches her ribcage disappear as her skin closes around it. She has been busy counting organs, inspecting imperfections. Her hands are still a bit bloodied but she is used to the gore of it now. Each night she holds them one by one in her hands—kidneys, liver, stomach. She expands the intestine like an accordion, lets one end spring to the floor and dangle. She measures it against her body, marks in this way the gravity battling her bones and posture. She runs her fingers over the surface of her stomach, feels for new terrain. She knows each fold of every organ, knows the hue and even stink of her own liver. Who else knows all of this? she thinks, pleased.
What are bodies but encasements for whatever is inside them? A house for a hoard. She cradles a kidney in her arms and whispers, I created you and you need me. She’s looking for a smile in its eyes, but the organ is unmoving in her hands. She puts it away. What’s really pushing her is worry, the fear of what might be disclosed within her body. She wants to know about each mark and augmentation, needs to document what’s new. She knows what can be lost when sentience goes unguarded.
She has not yet attempted to inspect the brain. A table-saw watches her from a closet. A brain is not exempt, she knows, though the process to retrieve it is much harder. The organ contains this very sentence, she thinks. It knows each one of my plans. She feels afraid of it and all it knows of her, while she has never even held it. She feels afraid of what it might be plotting, what destruction it may enact. You’re not just pieces until something comes loose, she thinks. Whatever goes missing calls attention to what remains—kidneys, liver, possibly a brain.
What was it I used to do? she says out loud. She may have never done anything before this.
is the author of the chapbook, GHOST
, published by Anomalous Press
. She is the
recipient of the John Hawkes Fiction Prize and an &NOW award for innovative fiction. Her work is anthologized in The &NOW
. She lives on land in New England, and on the internet at sarahtourjee.wordpress.com