From L O N E L Y T H I N G by Philip Sorenson




They followed the tracks through the snow. Short strides. Long Strides. Limping. Fully erect. They followed the melting ice. Down and down and down. They were blinded by the glare of the swinging leather branches and the silver ship. Into the empty mouth, into the palace, the characters descended into the ice.


As they spread out face down on the silver skin of the wreck, the characters imagined a flowing and heavy pile of velvet: so deep and quiet like the dark porthole—a single pip on a die. At the bottom of the heavy wave, something moving, half moons and pink and white, first scurrying and then lashing. The characters couldn’t see it, but they felt it: a black eyed porpoise’s head jutting up through foam and then back again, a wax tree.


Was everything becoming a skin reaching forever downward? What were the characters doing? The laboratory door, the allegory felt like a kind of exile. Things never solely there, always arrayed, a head pushing from the ventilation shaft or the just-discovered hole in the wet ground; but faces, even as words, are never enough, and the characters understood that the tail wrapped back through the hole and into the earth where it coiled in a massive horde. The characters felt the exile of interpretation. The characters felt trapped in their double bodies. The characters hoped to erupt like soda erupts into foam. The characters hoped for an eruption in the crown of their head; they hoped for escape, a flight into the bottomless skin. A single body as smooth as a medieval sun, no mouth, no anus. An apple the exact shape of an apple.


When the characters began doing blood tests, they had to tie the characters down. They took the characters’ blood and boiled it. Because the characters were a kind of diffuse organism (this had already been explained), the whole of the characters, not just the blood, would recoil. The characters were paranoid and not ready for the explosion of skin and blood and fish. Everyone was covered in the skin of a new queen and a new kind of kingdom: the promise of completeness. Never again would anyone have to worry. Everything was going to be quiet again.

Philip Sorenson lives in Chicago where he teaches composition and literature at Loyola University. His poems have most recently appeared in Deluge, Pelt, Spolia, and Horse Less Review. His book, Of Embodies (2012), was published by Rescue Press.