Sunday, February 6, 2011

258. Night’s Children

Bemused and misbegotten,
the children of the darkness,
who crouch by the side of the highway
where we occasionally see their faces,
pale white little moons,
watch us intently, and their intent
is dominion.

                      Sewn out of bolts of chiffon
and dressed for Sundays that never come,
the children talk only about how
they must kill the grown-ups to keep
from turning into them themselves. On each
of their tiny fingers, a tiny white crescent
rests in the inky sky.

                                   They live far
from the lights of the city and despise
how even the slightest illumination
causes their skin to burn and reveals
them to be as white as a night’s moon
and not the black of darkness they
most prefer.

                    Without parents, they kill
frogs and toads for meals during warm weather
and the thin meat of squirrels in the winter.
They drink water only at night when
the water appears to be the liquid form
of darkness.

                    They sleep through the day
hoping to erase the memory of sunlight
from their minds. If they wake up
before nightfall, they call out for their
mothers to stay away from them.

                                                       Without
the pleasures of homes, they sleep in creek beds,
allowing the black water to wash their skin
even whiter than it was before, and the only
clothes they wear are two elm leaves, one each
in each palm of their hands, those leaves
placed their to hide their futures from
themselves.

                    The only light they usually see
is starlight and headlights, and
they comprehend the swiftly moving constellations
of the highway as well as they do the slowly
moving constellations of the heavens.
They watch the traffic to learn
about our lives, the lives of adults, and to avoid
any similarities to us. For that reason, they
do not smoke, nor drink coffee (even though
they would appreciate its blackness and
bitterness), nor laugh or sing along
to songs they hear leaking
from automobiles.

                              They have learned
that cars follow the highway in two directions,
but they have no idea where they are going
or why. They do not understand why we don’t
live close to our food and eat it fresh and
uncooked each day. They cannot believe
we live with clothes covering our bodies
and become cold at the slightest chill.

Some nights, they walk deeper into darkness
searching for food, and they might stumble
under a city of tiny lights laid out along
the width of a valley. When they do,
they believe that every streetlight they see
and every light shining out the windows of
a house is a headlight fastened in place,
and only then do they think we are
sensible beings who have found a place
to stay and be, who have given up
constant moving.

                         No matter how far
they wander at night in search of food
or of leaves to cover their palms, they
always return to the same creek beds
to sleep. In the winter, they take rocks
and break the ice so they can rest in
waters running black and so heavy over
their skin, and their skin turns from white
to a tender pink and they are almost
always sleepy then because their sleep
is haunted by dreams of adults with
their yellowing skin.

                                   At the time a child
among them reaches the age of thirteen,
the remaining children, hold the child
against the cold earth, legs splayed,
arms out straight with the shoulders,
eyes held open to see the stars of the sky
but blindered to keep from seeing
the headlights moving nearby. And the last
sight each pubescent child sees, at that point
when their pubic hairs are tickling out
of their bodies, is the swift moving of darkness,
a giant black rock about to crush their skulls.
And the children release these dead and porcelain
Bodies back into the creeks.

                                             When you drive
a highway at night, you might see these
children of darkness, or the faint halos
of their faces, but do not pity them,
for they live as they wish to live, and
they know no pain, and are never burdened
by the inconstant trials of pleasure or happiness.

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