m a t t    b e l l

Kidd, Kier, Kimball


Another new rain falls, dumped from the complicated sky, its acid-heavy droplets plummeting to pelt our shoulders as we run from awning to awning, from collapsing home porch to crumbling chapel steps. Along our way, we see every kind of bird upon the ground, all heavy with forgotten flying, and around them their mud-left eggs, as thin-walled as my wife's uterus, that tender thing trapped inside her unsafe body.

Within it, within us both, sound always these trapped prayers, necessary to be loosed.

Inside the church, that last dry place, we give them voice from our lungs, beg them from our knees, clasp them between our hands wrapped in the rosaries gathered from this dead town, this plague-slapped village. Above our heads, the stained glass strains against the wind, refracts the last minutes of dusk-light wrong and weird upon our faces until we are at last reduced to mumbles. Exhausted of words, we move together to light a candle for each baby lost, each fetus formed but not right-birthed.

By now, this takes us all night long. This takes every minute of every night.

At dawn, we extinguish the flames so the candles will be there to relight tomorrow, and then again we pray: Oh lord, just once. Just once, deliver us a child not wrecked from the beginning. Grant us a son not lousy with fur, not ruined with scales or feathers. Give us a boy made for the old world instead of this new one, this waste of weather and wild.

And what we would do.

And how we would do anything.

Our only answers are these silent histories, these sequenced promises written in stone, decorating each circling step from the vestibule to the altar, from the sacristy back to the last unburnt pews. Each station a terror trapped, or worse, a horror hope, too unbearable to believe, for perhaps this world is become now only the end of mystery, only the opposite of miracles.

Inside my wife, perhaps there is only the same, only these doubling doubts, these many questions that fill my own still-beating heart: Oh lord, for who else might be meant the inheritance of the earth? For who else is meant the receiving of the kingdom? If not our impossible, short-lived children, then what new race still to come, undreamt in our present darkness? Who are these next babes, about to be poured down upon the earth, come at last to wash us from off its tear-soaked face?



MATT BELL is the author of How They Were Found, a fiction collection forthcoming in Fall 2010 from Keyhole Press, as well as The Collectors, a novella, and How the Broken Lead the Blind, a chapbook of short fiction. "Kidd, Kier, Kimball" is from a recently completed novella titled Cataclysm Baby, other excerpts of which are forthcoming in American Short Fiction, Unsaid, Sleepingfish, and Puerto del Sol. He is also the editor of The Collagist and can be found online at www.mdbell.com.



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