Joel Chace The 2River View, 5.1 (Fall 2000)

of the word-kind

—when they discovered the pit and had excavated far enough to uncover the first several remains, there followed a strange, protracted period of time during which the five explorers seemed virtually paralyzed by fear, stupefaction, and titillation—

for awhile I couldn't
decide between standard
yellow legal pads and
more sturdy clasp
journals finally it was
a case where the more
expensive was also the more practical

—under seared and obviously aged ground cover, the soil itself was oddly dark, moist, and rich for such an arid environment; this alone was extremely puzzling though that particular mystery faded rapidly in the blinding light of the subsequent discoveries—

that last night as we
were tucking Clarissa
in she said daddy ask
me what is aftermath
I asked what is
aftermath Clarissa
answered aftermath
is lunch my eyes
started to fill you
so I turned
away and flipped
the light switch and out
of the dark I heard
her little voice say
then recess

—the first identifiable items were badly soiled and tattered pages with printed words in at least half a dozen different languages, along with patches of cloth and leather attached to splinters of bone; upon closer examination, these materials were seen to be pieces of bindings and covers from books—

sure as shit they
mean the opposite when
they say it
doesn't matter it's not
your fault

—the fusion of these manufactured substances to the bone fragments was of course surprising but became viewed as both astounding and horrifying as the next layer of bodies was unearthed—

but what stuck
in my head was
you're an ass-
hole O.K. you're
not an asshole but
you act like
one most
of the time

—in this lower stratum the skeletons were dramatically whiter and considerably more well preserved, in some cases wholly; it was then discernible that the cloth and leather, now in larger and much less decayed swatches, had actually grown out from the centers, the very marrow of these bones—

first night on the
road I open
it and it's
like she'd packed me
a suitcase of my
own dirty laundry

—and so forth, precisely as related: the deeper the level, the more complete and consequently more grotesque the corpses; until, at nearly thirty feet, they struck an arm entirely fleshed yet as if winged with a fully printed page, a limb which began to twitch, then jerk, then rise unaided towards the hole of light above them all—

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2River All is well.