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
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.
Now do that ten more times.
Look back to when we were only atoms in the silt of a Devonian
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
the start of it all,
so sing with it
and sense the
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
up for anything,
what else is there
to do but sit and
feel that distant,
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.