Writer in Residence ยท 08/12/2011

Our Past

The year of the bison followed the year of the bat.

The year of the bat followed the year of the unborn.

The year of the unborn robbed the year of the precipice.

The year of the precipice turned to face the year of kindness, clasped her forearm, too hard, he clasped too hard.

The year of kindness fled to the year of mice.

The year of mice dealt solemnly with the year of perseverance.

The year of perseverance folded and swore at the year of lampshades, spotted with mistint paint, sold from a shopping cart at the side of the highway. I fear you cannot hear me for the noise of passing cars.

The year of passing cars shook beneath the highway bridge. The year of passing cars became the year of our defeat, which was unencumbered, precise, decisive.

The decisive year was the first year and the year in which we died.

The decisive year became the earnest year.

The earnest year annexed the year of fluid.

The year of fluid had nothing to teach us so we learnt science. And as we learnt we began to ask fewer questions of each other and more of the world itself. And we grew powerful in ourselves but lacked the power to recognize our progress. So the year of fluid grew not into the year of mirrors or the year of dedication but a year of unchecked arrogance that simmered in the gutters.

And the cars passed by, quiet on the fresh laid asphalt.

And the years passed by clasped too tightly by the years that had come before.

We turned to face them and shouted our names into megaphones. We learnt less of each other every day. We began to follow ourselves because we lost faith in the succession of days. And we settled in the year of our defeat and became earnest and ate the rodents we found in the gutters, grilled in a shopping cart on the side of the highway.

The year of the highway was the year we began. The year we began, the decisive year because we learnt to collapse the membranes between birth and death. We should have learnt this from the year of fluid, but we were careless, and so many remained unborn. Now we meet them in the year of mirrors but our hands cannot touch. The glass of this year is cold and cannot be clasped.
The glass of this year is a kind of unborn ice.

The year of unborn ice became a new succession of days. And we used our knowledge of birth and death to conflate the days and nights and dwelt in this year of half-light where we could not die, or were always dying, always dying into the moment of birth, and our eyes could not adjust to the light in the mirrors so we dug into the highways but could not recognize our progress.

The year of half-light remained in the moment of birth and death. The year of half-light was the achievement we would to take to God but the year of God refused to arrive. So we dug deeper into the highways and opened a chamber beneath the year of mirrors, a chamber flush with the years we would never know: years of precognition, years of impossible allotropes. So we teetered on this precipice: on one side the year of unborn ice, a year of torment, and on the other these years of exquisite beauty, touchable but too impossibly real.

This is not the truth of how we came here but the only way I can tell our story. Mice run through our chamber beneath the year of mirrors, over the mattress where I sleep with Zero.

My name is Malachi because I was the last.

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Richard Froude is the author of two books: FABRIC (Horse Less Press, 2011) and The Passenger, forthcoming this winter from Skylight Press in the UK. He was born in London in 1979, grew up in Bristol, moved to the US in 2002 and currently lives in Denver with his wife, Rohini.

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posted by Brian Kiteley