and Other Stories of Mother Earth’s Salvation
I- In the Still Darkness It was on a dank August evening when Mother Earth lost her sanity. The cicadas mounted from their bone-dry earthen tombs and howled their ghastly dirtsong once in perfect unison before falling silent into a mass of insectoid sludge which witches and fortune-weavers alike term an “omen” and scientists call “unprecedented.” Twelve days later, the pipes scream dry. O once-roaring rivers of everlasting nourishment are now found cordoned off and sanctioned for those with money. valuables. food. household items. Greed has driven the streets and soldiers mad, turning water from necessity to aqueous commodity. What was once the mighty ocean waves her final white-crested flag towards her intercontinental colonizers on a desolate September evening. There remains only festering garbage and skeletal entrails of whatever maritime species hasn’t yet been slow-boiled sans beurre. The streets lay barren by October, families huddled in tenement slums reciting their own paganistic desparations, professing gilded repentance to whatever demon-slash-god brought upon the famine, the polydipsic hell, the hunger, the pangs, the In November, a chink in Mother Earth’s mountainous armour reveals an unforgiving eye, And in December their penance is bared. II- The Basilisk King On the first day came the flies. Pestilent, festering sludgegrime black beans of portent disease spread their terrors about. Hordes emerge from the apex of our Mother Earth’s gaping, dry maw from beneath the muckbed of what once was ocean. On the second day came the famines; sentenced to sensory deprivation by mushroom clouds of locusts and bees and birds and cherubs flying to somewhere other than Doomsday. On the third day came the Basilisk King himself, the hateful World-Tortoise of scalding venom and kaleidoscopic scale, his glare at the moon reflecting, enchanting, guiding the denizens of his Cruel Earth to a juvenile demise. On the fourth day we learned to hide as the Basilisk King marched dutifully towards the Western hemisphere dripping poison-clad wrath (did the East remain?) and the chemical-taste tears of acidic rain clouds beckoned forth their new Master. On the fifth day we became rats, gnawing away at the unforgiving stone below, taking our children and our rations and what remains of our hope down into the catacombs of a once-Edenic pearlescent sphere and we waited for the Basilisk King to give back the earth, give back the stars, and give back his gaze as Mother Earth calls him back into her embrace once more. III. Wind-Scarred “KING: No more the thirsty entrance of this soil Shall daub her lips with her own children’s blood. Nor more shall trenching war channel her fields, Nor bruise her flow’rets with the armed hoofs Of hostile paces.” -William Shakespeare, I Henry IV Neon-streaked starlicked zeniths of light beam morsels of delicious warmth into the malnourished souls climbing beneath the rubble before it again implodes and the luminescence retreats. Clinging so barely, they push brick from dirt from collapsed roof until they break through, wanting desperately to be greeted by warm skies and vast green horizon. The bitter symphony of brutalizing winds chill the spines of the once-human underground refugees, who retreat from it like a prey-rat does from a starving street dog, and descend once more to spread the lies of the warmth, the mendacity of the beautiful oceans, and submit to the truth: the thirst, the hunger, the stalactite-rot that salted gums succumbed to in curved-spine invalids and the addictions, the famine, the IV. In the Wake of Her Devastation The Basilisk King slumbers some thousand years later. The rats of the underearth had long died out, leaving behind memories of lives lived under cruelly-wrought reptilian authority, panoptic through the torn seams of Mother Earth’s broken torso. Some million years later, she begins to embrace warm recovery, her grief finally entombed within the bedrock of her distant memories. Her surface beckons forth verdant new life as gaseous bubbles release chemicals into the atmosphere. She smiles into the loving rays of sun and even her scars begin to fade, replaced with rolling emerald horizon, similar to those unfortunate who envisioned green salvation eons before. Some billion years later, the denizens of her freshly-healed Mother Earth discover an insectoid sludge oozing from a laceration on her newly-gashed bosom. She cries tears of petroleum sadness, and The Basilisk King stirs from his billion year slumber.
— Curtis Vandenbrand is a part-time poet and a full-time student who lives on the east coast of Canada.