No Centuries End

“Beer, phoo,” said Pindarus, “what is beer? Wine I know; wine inspires; wine is the honey of the gods. What is beer? The ferment of old clothes, the sour mouth of the slave. There is no inspiration in a glass of small beer.”

Even now something is being born, something is beating its fragile wings against the walls of its cyst, something is struggling and flushing with the struggle, something is drawing its first feeble breath of air. For the newborn, there are no mirrors: each image is a stranger. Perhaps it is come crawling up out of the drain of your shower, to lunge overlegged across the bare skin of your foot and blink up at you with faceted eyes; as you shriek and flail it slips over the tubside and flits away. How could you have seen it, in that first shock of meeting? How could you have recognized the curls of hair as anything but sense organs?

Or out of the crusted-over lips of half-empty paint cans left to ferment in the corner of a closet. Like bees bred out of the hollow corpse of a bear, rare with every color, vibrant with decay, head too large for the shake of its body, fingers small and stubbed and useless, little half-moons of fingernails scrabbling at the door of your apartment. When you stumble home, hands wrestling with drink to unlock the yale bolt, it crouches by the jamb; when the door swings out of the darkness, it runs up the leg of your jeans, pauses for a moment on your shoulder, body coiled beside your ear, then springs out and away, chasing the yellow moon. As the adrenaline ebbs out of your system, how will you rationalize it to yourself? What will you make it, when you tell yourself its story against your pillow?