Scott Daughtridge DeMer
Beneath Your Earth, Another Earth
Season of the daisy
They say this exile is punishment for blasphemy, but I prefer living in this remote, fragile room where I watch the hours move and the seasons take shape. The smell of the flowers outside drifts through the windows, weaves into my hair, makes me dizzy. I pass the days tracing the shifting shadows of the fig tree sprouting through a hole in the rotting floorboards. Loops and lines in black ink by the light of sun and moon.
Season of the lily
I keep the fig tree's leaves damp with my tongue, sometimes my tears. The fig tree is my sister. I used to whisper prayers but now I eat her fruit. In place of hallelujahs, purple spittle. There is no bed because there is no need to sleep. It's amazing how things have changed.
Season of the honeysuckle
My pen runs out of ink, so I pry a nail from the floor, splintering my fingertips. It's easier to trace the shadows with the tooth-like tip biting through the wooden flesh. This is what I tell myself when my skin rips. In place of blood, purple juice. The days stretch and bend, and the once-silent voices are now amplified. In the scarred floor a map emerges, some chart, some secret plan concerning light.
In the distance, below the sun, above the blood, the vultures sweep in circle. I imagine their yearning. The voices ask, What do you know about the body? On the wall, I scratch the words:
My arms erupt with red welts which I keep wet with lick. The voices whisper all at once about gardens.
At night I tick away the time, nail in hand, diagramming the moon's orbit, outlining the widening split in the fragile wooden floor. The fissure is the size of my finger, then my fist, then my head, then my hips. Same size as the hole from which my sister sprouts.
I whisper to her leaf, Have you ever touched the bottom of the river? Felt all the dead days clotting in the cold? Imagine the mud beneath the room like this, thick and stewy, fertile.
Season of the larkspur
My skin goes slick with sweat as the lacerations in the roof and walls widen. There is rain. There is sun. That is all we need.
I bite a chunk from my finger, drop myself into the hole, drip the juice down to the mud. My red welts fatten.
Sister, I say, can you feel my roots singing?
When the new light shines, my welts give way to bloom. Beneath each bloom, a tiny bulb. What do you know about the body? the voices ask. I mouth the words:
I send secrets to my sister through the dirt, tell her all the sins I've ever known. She talks about the blossoms, the bird chatter, the glisten in her veins.
Season of the poppy
In place of my eyes, flowers. Pink or black depending on the day's vibration. Instead of hair, a head of pollen. My entire body bursts into foliage and I dig down deep into the muck. What do you know about the body?
The hours move. All round us the rippling curvature of stealthy black clouds, clouds inside of clouds, speaking to us in a new language, that of lightening, that of light. The walls and roof are pulled, torn, scattered, then the yellow floor covered with my maps and messages collapses.
Season of the morning glory
I hear the sound of my growing. Cell, cell, cell, cell and on and on until the shapes take hold and the organs are surrounded by the brittle formations. Twisting stomach. Bubbly lungs. Boxy heart. All awash.
Season of the calendula
Sister's song reverberates through the mud, through my stalk and stems—a hushed tune, no more than swirling static and buzzing lilt, the only sounds that draw the night's oily slick to our leaves. Sing Sister sing Sister sing Sister until all we taste is black.
Season of the chrysanthemum
We are the ghosts and we are the haunted. Portals for all light. We know fruit, we know sun, we know sky.
Season of the daffodil
Sister sings. I sing. All around us, blue. Our voices double, triple, quadruple in overtones of deep shaking and high ringing cries. The doors inside my cells creak open to show the purple space extending. What do you know about the body?
My pollen, seeds, stamen perk, pull apart. No gravity can imprison this process predicted in the scars on the fallen floor. I bleed all the light I've ever captured. My leaves and petals disjoin, hover. All aglow before they soar. This is written in the mud:
Season of the carnation
Sister and me. We are the yellow glow shifting in the deep black night, we are the luminous swirling waves, we are the photons sinking into the delicate pupils, we are the food that keeps the leaves alive. We are now. We are tomorrow. We are beyond and this, this—
Scott Daughtridge DeMer
is a fiction writer from Atlanta, Georgia. His work has appeared in CHEAP POP, Midwestern Gothic, Necessary Fiction, Fanzine, matchbook, decomP
and other places. He currently studies fiction at Arizona State University.