Outfield by Hal Y. Zhang


On the tarpaulin I lay your body, cold and rigid as the geometry you love. Tiny invaders already hunger, stretching their wings and cilia in prayer. The banana-yellow mud tastes of forever, and when I sink to my knees the puddles run clear with eggs of sated flies. In worship they will subsume your organs, your thoughts, your sex, and thousands of generations will grow up under the blue plastic roof drinking your holy soup, a swig of gospel to all they bite.


At the median of my lifeline tethered halfway around the world I feel a pluck of air behind my right ear. The sting reminds me of your sharp laughter, the welt your broken nose. I once fancied I could piece you back together from the wings the worms the earth, but now I know better; not impossible, no, but to repair my own microcosm would uproot too many systems and families, lay waste to billions of minds however primordial. Were I to kill my qualms you would still shake your head inside me, so I move my cane forward another step. Take me instead.


When the priests ask me where home is I think coarse blue. Hard rain. Earthen rivulets on your frozen brows. Three pinched waves of musty incense, a honey shroud over my head, and I am floated out on the creek to be buried between my memories. The flies descend upon my humble offering. A large one flits on my eyelid, hunches over, then pierces my eye shut—instantly I am back in the bar debating ontological realities with your impossible mien. Last life we danced with words nightly, but this time you trace my eyebrows and thrum as you brush my beard with yours.


Inside your naked arm crook I ponder this strange new dimension of you, deity of the dipterons, manna of life. Your multifaceted crystal eyes tell me not to worry so much. As I nod my antennae grazes yours and it is better than my wildest fantasies, mind to mind to soma: a galactic constellation of buzzing wings. All of you, here and everywhere, in the multiplicity of jellied eggs that will glow long after the earth darks. Your scripture taught the flies how to form, to build, to take dead things and stars and transmute them anew—we have forever now. And I have much to learn.

Hal Y. Zhang is an inefficient semi-autonomous converter of foods into fantasies. Read more at halyzhang.com.