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Benjamin Faro is a green-thumbed writer and educator living in Asunción, Paraguay, on stolen Guaraní lands. He is currently pursuing his MFA at Queens University of Charlotte, and his prose and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in The Madison Review, Portland Review, Atlanta Review, Invisible City and elsewhere.


Hooke's Law states

that a given object

will return to its original shape

no matter

how strongly it is deformed.

There is a hope here in the words given,

original, return, as if we become again

what we wish to be, inevitably and wanted.

And if we speak of beginning, we speak

of the end—our purpose misplaced in the

way the word has bent us from birth—

malleable and twisted as molten glass, but

according to physics, what form that's lost is

eagerly restored—your form, the necessary if

not welcome homecoming to who you were

meant to be. Life and its matters, this long

ripple of nuclear fusion snaking through

spacetime, our planet a sky lantern finding

its way, each of us a smaller one inside.

The light. Your purpose refound. And

what if you could relive each memory

only once, then it was gone, like that middle

coda in Beethoven's last unwritten fantasia.

Don't you remember? Cry the chords you

never heard but vividly recall. Sit and listen

to the black-keyed melody of some alternate

life, drink up the smell of rosemary and vinegar.

And if we speak of beginning, then we speak

of chaos, like the soft cover of a felt night

and how it suddenly is glass and shatters at

the sound of a wailing newborn, persistent and

inevitable. You shush this life to sleep. You can

forget about a child, but you cannot forget your

sadness. You dream of the snowbelt, the Fifties

when the factories downtown still had windows

and global warming wasn’t a thing. Fresh paint on

red brick: Syracuse China. Nearby, the gravel mine.

Solvay Process. The Fair Grounds. On 690 westbound,

now just smokestacks beneath a sky that still seems just

as grey. Wasted years in the smog around you. And you

turn up the stale defroster, smell the salty roads of March

and think of us, the Big Bang, the End and what comes after

and figure if we really are to be together again, it won't be

for another billion lifetimes.


And this was Appalachia.

Floral elders telling stories of beginning.

How coconuts appeared mid-Miocene, five to twenty million

years ago, when trees now petrified plumped their reddish fruits

with sour juices.

The birth of kelp forests, grasslands,


Understand how long it took for Homo habilis to become us.

You can't.

Now do that ten more times.

Look back to when we were only atoms in the silt of a Devonian

foreland basin.

The Catskills, the Alleghenies, tell us that the crystal water shallowed

quickly to the west, deepened as it pooled over what is now

Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee.

This was the time of fish, when tetrapods first climbed ashore.

And why does it still seem easier to get oxygen from water?

The need for air feels inefficient, but we are given it.

And this was Appalachia:

Mont Blanc or Seoraksan, La Serranía de Hornocal. The sons

of prehistoric orogen.

And we call it prehistoric only because it preceded us.

We, apparently, are history.

And what other force but Earth knows that an internal flame

can take you to the clouds?

Destruction : Creation : Destruction : Creation and so on

for all of time.

And it's cold up there, where mist looks like mist at any age,

as it always has and must, and

this water is the only thing that makes any sense at all—

its sleight of hand, its

magic, disappearing to become again some fossil

spring through this,

our inevitable and heavenly subduction.


And all the moisture

in your jaw was

just some snowmelt

passing through a

largemouth's gills:


the start of it all,

so sing with it

and sense the

slow beginning

that lubricates

your sleepy voice

and feel how

it is necessary

that every word

begins with water.

And you rise with

sounds much older

than you still

to wait for dawn

without standing

up for anything,

for continents

are shifting—and

what else is there

to do but sit and

feel that distant,

restless hum?


Discussions in the house got louder, and it would have been embarrassing had I been there; but I was already gone. Space is what we seek when we need closeness most: drowning cedars in mossy blankets, dead leaves, peat—things familiar and organic in decay. Think about how when you cut a worm, it remains alive—makes two—and wonder why it is not the same with snakes. Only some things can survive when split. And there is something about New York—not the city—its glacier-chiseled dales in springtime. Sunken marshes, bogs, and other lowlands flood, and the water must come from somewhere. Cascades in the mapled valleys. Jewels of some modest prince's emerald crown, pouring down past vultures' nests and nettle to the center lake, where warmer summers turn its shallows wrongly verdant—thick and soupy to the touch. Imagine walking out to build a raft of blue-green algae, reclining, looking up at hang-gliders in the sky, facing down like mirrors of yourself, but completely different people, soaring through a space where they were absolutely never meant to be.


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