The Birth of Monsters

Sailors claimed that the beasts erupted from the oceans in bursts of multi-colored heat, scalding the waves and charring their ships.  Creeping around the corners of maps, they peered from the unknown reaches of the atlas, where science ended and fancy began.

They were molded from water, sculpted from currents that were turned with pelagic skill in Neptune's green and blue hands.  Their claws were torn from coral reefs and grottoes - their blood was salty.   And their scales, taken from the skins of shells, pulsed with a nacreous glow as the beasts swam to the surface.

The spines that arched for miles along their backs were sharpened on whales' bones; their movements changed the tides, creating a lunar panic, with voices hidden in the waves colliding with the bruised shore.  They slept on beds of fog and rain – cold and quilted with fishes.

But astronomers had another vision.  Using their maps, spheres and harmonies, they saw creatures that wheeled across the sky, with constellations unfurling in their stomachs and hearts, and stars that tickled their backs.

These monsters stretched across the dark latitudes and stared into the planets' light.  The illumination spread across their faces, creating depths and curves in the craters of their flesh.  Their expessions changed as the planets continued the endless curl of their orbits.

The colors reaching through the sky were the colors of their bodies moving across the firmament, flexing their astral muscles.  Their bestial complexions reclined on the horizon, towering silver, bronze, persimmon and sapphire until they found heaven's black summit.

And yet there were other explorers – those who saw these creations restless and waiting within the earth, living within the endless landscapes of the expectant world.

Monsters curled within seeds and blossoms, listening for Spring's whisper to lure them from their rooms of confinement.  Here was a season of labor that brought a nativity of color and shape to challenge definition.  And during the days of Autumn's dry wisdom, the leaves that crackled on the ground bore the maps and blueprints of future births within their veins and dying chlorophyll.

Below the ground, stone and alloy melted into a froth of lava:  hot blood that galloped and circulated through bodies newly awakened.  Above ground, mountains formed the vertebrae of beasts – and valleys were the gaps between their bones.

Water, sky, earth:  the elements that created the world.  But also lurking within these mythological rudiments were beasts.  These were also the elements that saw the birth of monsters.

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7 responses to “The Birth of Monsters

  1. How could a waterbaby not like this? "The spines that arched for miles along their backs were sharpened on whales' bones" – wonderful, this line!

  2. listening for Spring's whisper to lure them from their rooms of confinement. I love it when spring starts whispering – it is not only monsters who've been confined for many months.

  3. [this is good][as always!]oooooh. . ."here there be monsters". . .!!!

  4. Your language is just as lush and descriptive as ever. This story reminds me of Bhanu Kapil's Incubation: A Space for Monsters, which was partly inspired by one of our classes at Naropa. Some of my classmates made a monster out of words. Bhanu's monster is similar to Anne Carson's Geryon from The Autobiography of Red, though Bhanu calls hers Lalu (red). Bhanu's book is very strange, even stranger than Anne Carson's. It's fiction that seems like non-fiction. Or maybe it is non-fiction–it's really hard to tell.

  5. I like that fiction can get lost in non-fiction. As well as when prose gets confused with poetry. And always it seems to me that respect and love of words is the common demoninator.

  6. You're so right about respect and love of words. Good writers have word love ; )

  7. Amazing melding of the elements, and the beasts that lie within. It's also apropos that the ocean beasts should reflect into the sky!

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