“The Murk-Journal (or Once Beyond a Time)” by Danica Cummins
A witch cursed me long ago, and now I am the stones in a riverbed. This freshwater kelp is my hair. These obsidian pebbles are my eyes. This frisking otter -- she’s my heart, and these hiding minnows are my mind. Do you think I would forget I was female -- the way my legs cleft in the middle? This eddy of water here by the rock -- that’s my enjambment, my womb. I was threatened once. A witch cursed me to live a long and happy life, exactly as I’d wanted. Then the unicorns started denying me. They nickered away from my scent. I smelled finished: of the ragged moonflower heath, and the tower steps, and the pearly blood clots in winter no more. Now I must be a tender of beanstalks, the witch said, not a climber; and the door in the valley, creaking there free of going anywhere wouldn’t open. And I thought: Maybe I’d rather be the stones. I backed into these waters, far from words, and scents, and doors; far inside a different sort of power. And I’ll wait here. Until the moths eat the tapestries, I’ll wait here. Until no man remembers the planet where pipers can lead. Until sailors retreat from the salt breath of mermaids, thalassic romance adjourned.
|Danica Cummins lives in Northern California, where she works in a bookstore and dreams of being a pirate. Her work has been published in Luna Station Quarterly and many other online venues.|