Thursday, March 7, 2013


An Elven Cry
By Maggie Chung

One foot in heaven, the other burns. I straddle dimensions, locked in a frame, matte-finished and cracked. And the artist took a job on Mars.

My chair’s a log; my desk, a stump. The pen’s run dry so I pick up a branch and scratch. It inks all red like hurting does, like giving birth to twins. I want to tell it, squeeze it splotched on a boraxed sheet. I’d tell it well, full-truthed and screaming. I can hear them now, “Stick a tit in its mouth; shut it up.”

I was born a stranger in the world of man. My people die for simply being. The wind feels sorrow, and the trees. And maybe God, if there is a god. On days like this, I wonder.

Let the world now know:

They dislodged me one consciousness at a time. Hacking, scarring, dropping life— spread in pools of pain. There it lay, red and dying, much like the pen before me. Life never gave so hard.

“You’re a danger,” they said, and winged a frontal lobe.

“We want to stockpile your blood,” they said, and drained off my heart.

“We need samples,” they said, and slid up my thigh.

And so I watched, waiting for a savior to rush through those doors and make sense of it all. Even a diploma on their wall would have helped.

They ran short of anesthesia. It hurt; god, I hurt—hurt like hell in all its levels. I wished I had died then, as now. It would have saved me from the long-becoming, long-becoming in my heart’s deep core.

“I’m sorry,” they said; no more than that. And then they called me strange and landed, from a planet distant, far away, or woods across their pond. He in his starched white overcoat; she in her squared-off nurse’s hat.

My wrists were chained and arms stretched high; my bones were pulled like putty. No one told me it would be like that; no, no one gave instructions at the door.

I was born with the trees and the morning sun. It’s a light that stings, and sometimes shards, but always twangs like a cellist on brand new strings, like an archer pursuing life. In the forest, the twanging you hear is a life shot to earth, into earth, back to ground. I was the string about to be twanged.

And I am sincerely yours.

The trees drop flakes, the sky grows dark—darker than I’ve yet to see. The leaves sift close around my feet and scratch their way up through my knees. I sit for days without arising and wake engulfed in comfort-smells—the forest’s musty living things. The stems jam every open space and through my hair, between my teeth. I’m melding nicely, don’t you think?

My nails have grown so long and sharp—my daggered self, my own death squad. I reach up with my writing hand, up through the leaves, and scrawl an “x” to sign it there, the epitaph—no, more than that—an accusation, brazen, straight— and naming names like yours.

The snow begins and still I thirst, the acorns have been squirreled away, the roots are frozen deep asleep and soundly waiting for the dawn. I ate the berries long ago, lunched with my friends the forest birds. And who says I can’t starve to death? The loss of weight would do me good—my ears would shrink.

I swear to lie here faithfully ‘til all the world returns my gaze and loves or hates me just because, just because I am.

The snow keeps falling, heavy wet. My wounds and worn-down nails are cold. I shiver, stiffen, darken, dark.

I’ve never known such bitterness… in my heart’s black core.

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Maggie Chung is a multi-published magazine author. She lives in Iowa with her husband, a couple of Jeeps, and chickens that lay green eggs. In her spare time she enjoys teaching at writing conferences where she tries to deflect the Blind Assassins with her Margaret Atwood wannabe imitation.

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