Wizards and Warriors
Let me spell it out for you: you and me sitting in a tree. You, above, me below. Below, a house. Look at the map—look how high up we are, how far we need to go. Let’s make our home here among the spiders, among the bees and acorns. I am making a list of the things that you love: circles, tongues. I can’t tell you what this says about you. I am wearing a grey suit. I am wearing a grey suit and your skin is pink, the color of medicine. Here, take this—swallow it. I do not know how long you have been hanging in the trees. I don’t know how you are suspended in mid-air like a gem, like a dying wasp. Someone wrapped a string around your body—was careful with the knot. You must have lifted your arms up like you were dancing, like you were asking some god a question—about dead friends, about bribery. Someone pulled on the string and sent you skyward. You must not have kicked. You must not have forced your weight down through your stomach and through your legs. You must not have decided to become heavy, to let the blood in your arms condense in your fingers. You must not have blood in your arms because I have seen the wounds—I have seen where a dagger of throwing or a dagger of hand has sliced perfect lines: the cuts red and raised above the pink. Perhaps this is how you counted the days—no tree to carve lines into, four down and one across. This is how you keep count—number one repeated. If I put enough diamonds in my shoes I can get a key to the tree that we are in. I do not know who has locked the door. I do not know why I can find the key in the world—amongst the owls, amongst the saints. I know you will never believe me but I saw you without your hair. I saw you without your body, thin and flushed. I saw you without your eyes, your skin. I saw what was left of you try to crush me, to build me a house to put my bones in. Let me spell it out for you. Let me tell you about a dream that I have had—you and me, sitting in a tree. You above, me below. Below, a house. Below that, you, again. Below that, you, always, always again. Soon, I will turn into a thief. Soon, I will be accepted in the city, in the house below. I will take off a helmet—I will lose what is left of my legs. I will open a window. We, the warrior, are after the enemy, the wizard. Through the door in the center of the tree is somewhere we have never been: the bees are now bats. The forest is now red. It is not fall, I promise—I promised you I would never say the word fall. The tree where we have made our home is now dead—the bats weave in and out from the hole in the door. Let me cut you down from the tree—hold onto the rope as I slice, my hands around the frayed end so you don’t crash to the dirt below. Before I let you down, I want you to know that I cut a spirit to get here. I cut it in half like a lemon, like I was counting the days. I am here to rescue you. I am here to rescue you and you are quiet. You used to say help—say words that cut like diamonds when I was out of earshot, when I was in the castle, when I was underground, underneath the house, underneath you, always you. Talk to me about keys. Talk to me about bats in August the same way you talked about bugs in July. Talk to me about diamonds, about how they spin for a second before toppling over. Talk about these things. The only thing I am certain of is that the weight of my foot will kill the spider. The rest is guessing—where to step, where my body will recognize that I am touching something, that when I pull out a knife and press it against the rope, the rope will break. That when you pull out a knife and press it against your skin, your skin will break. That when your skin breaks I can see you as nothing but a face in bone. That when I have the diamonds that you wanted I can kick what is left of you into dust. That your spirit will kill me. That there is no such thing as a feather that can help me float. Here, in the tree where you count the days, I am making a list of the things you love: circles, lines.