Termiteby Noam Mor
Headlights bare a suture of earth, a wooden shack. A bat-like darkness restless for some destination. The boy, picked up, asks weren’t there stars made up a lover there someplace in the night. Never knowed if she existed in the sky, clouds closing him down. Slattern, he reaches out to what he was making ’fore the light slides by, the shambles interred. Passing roots and sapless trees, his past flimsy in the thick assault of rain.
-Where’ya goin’, Son?
-Forgot my lover a few miles down the road, her goodbye tape left playing in some other’s car. Forsaken. The only thing I can do is get there and look for our remains.
Eyeless and baseless is what this feels like. A blind couple’s trolling dance, feet snagging nowhere and old. Not so much as tape. I don’t have the time your photographs will lose. More than you own.
Where are we going?
A bellyache. Can’t see the land in your face.
You needed to shake this boy outta your life. I was intoxicated, daydreamed, grew tired. Reached out, took hold of my desire. Wanted to be your house. You’ve retreated, culling among termites. God, hearth, and child enough for my consummation.
I don’t see the land in your face—a blind hand. Couldn’t be our shelter—Her voice in a stranger’s car he has lost.
-Chalk and dust! No more to her than a quick intake of gas. No more fool than him that chases her down. Returning to the limit of the car.
-Was I an illusion passing through her legs?
Thick and illiterate clouds sift the boy’s scrabble, piddling on his dream.
The boy drives to some old stone houses, abandoned and rootless. Overgrown women busy themselves picking weeds, time quenching out from their wombs like the drizzle’s dust. He looks across the huge lake for the familiar, understands that lake is dead, but doesn’t know how.
-Where’s my kin?—He asks his woman, uprooting the weeds of his house, an oak tree at its center.
-You should go find’em, as we’re to live here.
-Do you know how to get there?
-All we can do is want an’ not very vell. Grub grub, Blindman!—His lineage skips rocks, rifts unraveling across the lake. He recognizes his childhood through the rutted bark of the tree, calls himself back arrives without forearms.
-Where are we going?
He’s lost the sweep of his arms.
Faster—He mutters—Faster—He mutters to his dreaming.
Erratic and lost, he asks a man for the dead inland lake.
-Never heard’a one in hundreds’a miles.
Confused and picking his nose. He hears a siren, wants to find it, but a siren is a big thing, spreads out very wide in the wind, loses place. He drives fast, speed all that glues him, tomes of the landscape changing.
-Are we goin’ to the cemetery?—He asks himself from the back seat, reminded he doesn’t know how he’s arrived, his reach, his family’s scatter.
He tries to remember his arms’ hold.
-We’re going to the Siren.
The Siren’s gotta want ya’—He sees a light in the distance and goes to it like a lighthouse, the road become bog.
His wheels slip fast and useless.
His dream mires into a grey cloud, not so much thought as conclusion, before finding its way to forgetting.
The breadth of myself
The boy scribbles in his notebook, afraid he won’t get his own clamor, sent to him on a thin horse, still no pulse. Some light deep in the distance, a thin sill of lye up the rain soaked pike. An egret releases its forest, limbs a clear line of flight into the pitch blank, hope another dim lightning. Three dogs sniff at an anteater’s red-tinted carcass in the headlights, the hairs on their spine standing on end a little, the freshness of this kill that could be their own. The car lurches in the wind and the old man holds the wheel tight.
The horizon lost my face
Kneedling of her breath
Salt and wilt-
-My Mabel were a firm house. Beautiful, my hope. ’Bout the only thin’ I was sure was to be in her house, to smell her cloy, big hips and hopper. A big promise to grow in her passage. Do you want her enough, Son?-Jus’ cawlin’ in his book. A conversation again wi’them that aren’t here. Dried gnats from days’an days’a drivin’ for’a little talk to put off the night, their smashed carcasses my land, remindin’ me I’ll soon be wi’them. Mable dead, son adrift.
Like candy the smell of your armpits and unwashed body warming me. I imagine you listening. Couldn’t do this face-up, watching you watch. Family’s all I hope. I hold on to a little bottom, don’t feel your wake in my uterus. I’ll keep on till the tape runs dry; more’a me God needs to be said. ‘Don’t,’ I said ‘Please, not us, not ours, but my child’s’. Her hope if I continue on. Just disappear, don’t knock on my door.’
The cold sores I get
Knowledge that I can’t-
-Curdlin’up there don’t get us nowhere ’cept rot, Son. Got no reason to breathe—Runnin’ to her groin an’ not his blood nomore. A long smoulder he’s rushin’ to it, it beginnin’ with his race to find what she’ll say. Told’em nothin’ more than a coupl’a words for all his flyin’. It only producin’ that counts.
The cold sores
The kneading of my balls-
-We don’t got much road left.
Tell me what’s hangin’ya
And I’ll stay with’ya
Farmed to ruins-
-Is it a deal?
-I’m tryin’ to remember her lost voice, feel shaky. Dig down to her till. The cause of it. Sent this photograph, empty of her. She peers away from knowing he wants, eyes flat black.
-Is it dead, Son?
Trees tear in the gale. The boy sweeps the fog from the landscape with his palm.
-Eyeless, termites are blind, lost sight in the mounds they are born mate and die in. Crawling over their queen in huts made of their own spit and babble. Digesting trees, jagged soil outcroppings on the land, spirelings. I listened to her letter, the smell of thick mosquito repellent like decay. Took years to build such a pyre. I forced my spade into the top of the stillness, into her hull and snapping, trying to get at her. Like white crawling water on dry land, they rushed at me in their blindness, from thousands of small chambers, interconnected and shattered. I scooped out groups of them, snapping as they dribbled from my hands. Soldiers spit the liquid of themselves in the rush of the falling temple and earth around them, hung from my gloved hands and body, feet wailing and mandibles biting at the wadders. I watched them chibb and dribble and nibble at me, pale little pustules pulsating, thousands scampering, sticking to me, trying to reach my head, drown me. Like a god, I forgot all else around me. I heard them, though they cannot speak, the chaos of each scythe’s dying into another crowd of dead building momentum. I photographed my body covered in termites. I wretched then stabbed incoherently, knew the queen would be deep. The workers scattered over the widening rift, deeper into their tunnels, the nest a low mound of remains. I reached the queen, a sausage writhing amongst the other termites, covered by them, as if by maggots. White and eternally fucked, she was boiling with life, belching babies and vomiting inexhaustibly. She dangled and fell from my trowel, wiggling infants out her rear. I kept snapping and she just kept belching babies. I felt a surge of ownership, took my knife and cut off her head. She bled a white fluid mossyness, damp and ulcerous.
Even after I beheaded her, she kept birthing.
I don’t see landfall-
-You think your salt’s licked down by this lover? Can’t keep openin’ wide without shelter. For all your creations, you wasn’ her soil. That’s the big promise you make, the skin’a it, Son. Where’s your dirt, Son?-Don’ know where he’s goin’, a man rambling on to hisself by takin’ pi’tures’a wood-eatin’ bugs that he’s afraid of, pastin’ them onto hisself. The boy’s lost his head. Sinkhole.
A deer blinkers in the headlights.
Keeping your underwear in a vacuum jar. When I’m strong enough, I’ll smell you one last time then finish, just finish.
An obsession after another till I’m out of rhyme. The dim light of this tunnel we live in. Slums. Rotting vegetables hanging over my house. Wanted farther and I couldn’t reach, couldn’ father the child wanted with the pits I’m dug in. Something sticky in the air, her scent. Wish I could taste her, but my tongue ain’t having none nomore. Keep on, dog, piss hard into the end. Scat and nothing more. Flapping cross country catching blind slugs. Obsessions. Place stinks like wet dog.
-Have ya’ ever done self portraits, Son?
Farming from ruin. A trajectory toward some haze covered patch lost in the miring swamp. Darkness of starlight, darkness of tunnels. Fantasizing her eagerness not to pull away but to return to me to want me only for a moment to take me into the darkened tunnel of her name, pale deep in her earth. I was just trying to find a line of superabundance. Superpustular. If anything, toward safety and the nest. The clouds finally bear stars, patterns I can’t find.
I am windfall-
Noam Mor has had short stories published in First Intensity Magazine.