by Hannah Smith

published April 8, 2016

There was a tree, and from its bare branches hung bells, wine glasses, chandelier crystals, whistles, and lanterns. The hunched tree, with knots in its back, bent onto the busiest highway in the state. The cars, with whining children and cups in holders and sore legs, would crash into the ornaments. Shards of glass exploded onto the side of the road. Unable to stop, unwilling to look up, the drivers would continue: car after car passed, a disease in movement. Time passed, a single lantern hung in the darkness. A man walked to an early shift at a butcher shop and noticed the world reflecting out in screams contained in the lantern.


There was a swollen body at the bottom of a drying riverbed. In the early morning with memories of deer and rabbits, he would crawl with the river and emptied clouds. He would move over waterfalls, under docks, in between boats and fishing lines and find himself in the ocean, dissolving into sand, prisoner to warming tides.


The shells of invertebrates will dissolve. Snails, clams, mussels will be left raw. The vulnerability of their soft interiors will be on display. The creatures will find the rigidity of an exoskeleton in beer bottles, boots, and plastic trucks. The grayness, the heavy heat will obstruct sight. And oceans will flood gardens and will sweep away letters and watches. Droughts will carve bodies into willowy shapes. Bones will be ivory chipped and disease will carry through telephone wires. Sounds of others will arrive with hurricanes—and the laughter of the sky will startle us when we can’t open our windows.