IN THE HOUSE UPON THE DIRT BETWEEN THE LAKE AND THE WOODS excerpt
Courtesy of Vol. 1 Brooklyn, an excerpt from Matt Bell’s much-anticipated novel.
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Memory as new appetite, as hunger and harriment: To wish to try to join my family in its diet, but, because I would not take back my public objections, to do so always in secret,
eating only the parts of animals never eaten before, parts my wife and the foundling would not miss.
To trim the sinew from around the vertebrae of a raccoon, to gnaw a woodchuck’s knuckle, to save the ears of a hare in the back pocket of my trousers.
To crack open heavy nuts taken from the cheek of a squirrel, trapped while storing its winter stock.
To throw away the stringy flesh of groundbird after groundbird, keeping only loused mouthfuls of feathers to swallow later.
To do everything differently because what was already accomplished had failed to provide what life I wished, and only some new way seemed likely to save our family from this long fall, this world beneath the slow-sinking moon, this home where there was only husband and wife and fingerling and foundling in the house, only the bear in the woods and whatever-was-not-a-bear in the lake, of which I have barely yet spoke: We knew by then the ninth element was called bear, and for a time nine was enough. The tenth element was in those years only intuited, and what it was best named I did not know, whether whale or else squid, else kraken, else hafgufa or lyngbakr; a monster to match a monster, to oppose the other merely by its existence opposite the woods, in the lake on the other side of this border of dirt, the thin territory upon which we had staked our tiny claim.
There was a time when there was then.
When there was a watermelon
pink and pointy
as the sun and it was all
grapefruit and watermelon here.
In the woods.
Like I am. In the sea.
Regardless. It should be shared
that no grapefruit watermelon
can be before or could come.
That is, the pink sun. It is this grapefruit and melon.
Like a boy about to come. In France. On repeat.
Repeating, you wonder.
There is a prince who strokes the prism wondering also. And that
radiates. Grapefruit-like. Radiates a clean circle
of sea water and natural juices, piano keys, days of the week.
A pink number inside.
I am a boy in the woods. That Cadillac dropped off a dead person.
Head crushed like a watermelon. Pink and dreamy. I like
to stroke his head like a rose quartz and watch
for the stars that are telling me about the warm sun
to be found under the black birches. The bantams.
You wonder. There is a car in the woods. I load it
with quince and dead bodies. That is a job.
there is also persimmon and the birches put out.
Sluts, they give off invisible, metaphysical blossoms
that remind me, delicate as I am, of origami.
Tongue is like a silk worm.
Once I had sex with a blond boy. Oh.
In Japan. The grapefruity sound.
We made persimmon jelly.
The Cadillac is back again. The grill
is like a fist full of razors or like teeth
or a fistful of cherries or like dragonflies mating in lines.
I eat strawberries like I have a big car.
over the pond where there is an enormous pink
star underneath with pond people inside it
and in its orbits, the lilypad silk ties with their hair
and they sing with crystal voices and fish gills
the story of their victims in the heavy piano lounge
that they live in.