Report of a Visit to the Island
Some women carry knives strapped to their belts, and can cut off tree branches without dulling the blade. The air smells like crumbled sage and the nape of the neck in the morning. Some men whistle, turn their faces to the ground to cry. It is not the sun they worship. Underground streams run with a type of dark syrup, and the children dig with stones, place their small lips to the soil, drink. There is a special arithmetic to their breathing, an inhalation every hour, exhalation every half, multiplied by three in times of joy, divided by two in times of sadness. It is not the moon they worship. Cities of ants are built in their footsteps. Some women wear straw, some men cannot remember the place from which they came. Their chairs are all thrones – the petrified stumps of trees. They drink a tea made from cotton, eat red things from bowls made of glass. They are known to sleep for days. They have a word for awaken, but I don’t know it.