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Published: Tue Jun 18 2024
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Destruccion por un remolino del aire Xocomeel del Lago Atitlán / Destruction from a Vortex of the Xocomil Winds around Lake Atitlán (detail), 2014, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Online 2024 Home Nature Mysteries

I go down to my hut. I go down every day. I go in the afternoon. I go when the afternoon meets the early evening. I go alone. I go alone to be alone. I go down to my hut to be alone in my hut with no one.

The stretch of garden is long, it narrows the closer I come to its boundary, and as I walk a thread floats static into my peripheral vision. I pull at the thread to lift it off me. The thread is not synthetic, it is white towards the top near my fingertips. Along its length it becomes more and more transparent. The thread is not a thread. It is a spider’s silk, it is a dandelion milk, it is a new flora, fauna, a strand from a seagull’s feather. This barb is long, an albatross’s. It sticks to my index fingertip and transfers to my thumb tip as I touch them together, then apart, hoping the wind will take the strand away with it. Tip to tip it flows. Tacky. Caught on a breeze. Lifted. The gummy silken strand swirls around and around itself, flying, ribboning further and further into the distance.

It is in my hut I can eat.

I pass beneath the old fir tree at the bottom of my garden, and a tiny spider drops onto the back of my hand. I do not know if I want the fortune of accommodating him. I do not know what restitution he may or may not be seeking in exchange for my possible acceptance of his fortune. I try to shake him off me. The ground is a long way to fall, from my hand, if you are a miniature money spider.

I pause.

He’s still there. Resting. Resting at the half-moon scar from a fingernail dug into the back of my hand in retaliation. I flick him from me. Harshly. He plummets. Murderer.

I open the locks on the bolt of my hut. I open the locks with their keys, I open the locks with their combinations. Their keys are on a loop the colour of gunmetal. A wide-rimmed ring. The gunmetal wide-rimmed ring is large in diameter, it hangs from a hook on my front belt loop. An extendable cord allows me to pull on the ring, to grasp a key, to twist each lock, to open. I do not retract the cord. The ring’s load is heavy, each opened lock hanging from its key or its open clasp. I enter my hut with my gunmetal loop—the keys, the locks, they hang by my side, they bang by my side, they dangle. I unclasp all these fixings from my body. There is a singular nail on my wall on which I hang my loop. I pull the door shut behind me.

In my hut I am alone.

The inside of my hut is dimly lit because I have allowed ivy to creep across its only window.

The inside of my hut is cool.

The inside of my hut is balsam.

The inside of my hut is stark.

The inside of my hut is home.

The inside of my hut is silent.

Silence sounds like







My eyes adjust to the silence. My ears adjust to the silence. My smell adjusts to the silence. My shoulders adjust to the silence. My breath adjusts to the silence. My lungs adjust to the silence. My gut adjusts to the silence. My crotch adjusts to the silence. My seat adjusts to the silence. My limbs adjust to the silence. My body adjusts to the silence. My heart adjusts to the silence. My pulse.


                    My jaw, my mouth, my taste adjusts to the silence.

In my hut is the curd.

The curd is off-white.

The curd is in a jar. The jar is sealed tight. I use the strength of my bicep to loosen the jar. I do not rely on the turn of my wrist—

In my hut I am alone.

In my hut I can think. In my own space thinking is possible. In my isolation, I can think alone, when no one else is near me. In my hut I can think, think and be me freely.

It is in the silence of my hut I can eat.

—In my hut I eat the curd. In my hut I sniff it. Saliva floods my mouth. My taste buds sing: craven.

The curd is roughly the shape and width of rolled cotton dental packing. Fully exposed it measures molar tooth length, root to tip.

It tastes sour: bleak. Its bleakness fills my mouth with its rancid cultures.

The curd is hard. Its rind pushes back against my bite and against my tongue in my mouth’s slow probing. It’s as long as my dental ridge. I push it up there. Stave the flavour. Hold it.

Worry against it with my tongue tip. It’s as long as the front of my tongue is long. I can curl my tongue. I can curl my tongue and grasp it in its basket. The curd lies in its tongue basket in my mouth manger. The curd is not quite rectangular, not quite cylindrical. The curd is a short stub. The curd is a short stub elongated.

It is now in my hut eating sour sweet curd I cannot but think of masturbation. It is now, once, and now only.

I eat my curd in my hut’s          slow

I spit the masticated curd into my left hand. I take another piece from the jar on my lap with my right hand to repeat the process.

I eat the rancid bleak sour sweet curds in the same way one after another. Until half of this jar is empty. I close my left hand to make a fist and feel the caseins balling. I ball my fist as tight as it will close, my four fingernails forming half-moons on my palm’s padding                                                                     No.
Waxing/waning crescents.

I toss the congealed mass into the bucket.

My mouth, my tongue: ferment-coated.


The soft close of daylight behind the down-hang of ivy filters through its waxy leaves, its root-thick meandering branches.          My window is dusted dirty with chlorophyll.          The sunlight’s sinking drift downwards glows green inside my hut.          Gaps filtering glowing to its soft red set reflect inside a trick of the filth, an almost aurora.


I            open      the            tin.


The smell of the garden rushes back in. The turn of the earth. The smell of the sod. Murder. Murderer. The worms in the tin, in the soil. The dirt in my hand. The soil in my mouth. The grit of the chew. The grain of flesh. The flesh of the worm.


In the silence of my hut I hold the dirt in my mouth.

I inhale deeply, I breathe out through my nose, lolling my head forward: resting. My chin on my clavicle. Pushing back in my seat. Dropping. My food to the floor—between my legs—landing it into the bucket.

My mouth is prepared.

It is only in the silent emerald darkness of my hut I can come closer and closer to tasting perfection.

I lift a rock: The rock is black. The rock is mineral. The rock is compound. The rock is stardust. The rock is matter. The rock is sediment. The rock is green. The rock is black.

My hut is dark.

The rock is richness. The rock is beauty. The rock is carbon. The rock is green. The rock is black.

The rock is aurora.

I lift the rock to my lips. I open my mouth. I lick it.

The rock tastes of silence, sea salt, swampland.                              
I put it down.

I lift the scoop from the coal slack scuttle.

Open my jaw wide at its hinges.          

                saliva drips from my lips’ corners

my palate cleanses
walnuts, peat, moss, centipede

I chew and crush the fragments in my teeth.

The slack gives way,

furze, bluebell, thyme


Luscious. Tender.      








Alone in my hut I am glorious.

The Men from Esc
by Cristina Rivera Garza
Translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker
AGNI 94 Journeys Nature Mysteries
Letting the Penguins Out
AGNI 93 Home Mysteries Relationships
The Far-Off Thunderheads
AGNI 84 Animals Home Nature
All That Hunger, All That Thirst
AGNI 98 Family Home Relationships

Lauren Foley (she/her) is a queer disabled multidisciplinary experimental artist. Her debut short story collection, Polluted Sex (Influx Press, 2022), was shortlisted for the Barbellion Prize, a prize dedicated to supporting ill and disabled voices in writing. Her work has appeared in Influx Press, AGNI, MidnightSun Publishing, No Alibis Press, Head of Zeus, gorse, The Los Angeles Review, 3:AM, The Cormorant, and elsewhere. A recipient of the Next Generation grant from the Arts Council of Ireland, her fiction has been anthologized in The Art of the Glimpse: 100 Irish Short Stories (Apollo, 2020) edited by Sinéad Gleeson. Foley is an editorial assistant at Overland, and a guest editor of The Masters Review. An Irish/Australian, she lives in North County Dublin. More at laurenfoleywriter.com. (updated 5/2024)

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