Sunflowers Chapter 4

Sunflowers Chapter 4

they showed me
to another pavilion, on the other side
above the graveyard
bleached white bodies
laid out a long way down

Nina – the rains always
uncover them

but they never seem
to wash away

Cora – but we don’t have
to go there, we have options

Rana – I’m going to be compost
unless I change my mind

Jasper – why tell her this?
she won’t get to choose
or they would have asked her

not neccesairily yes no but
             they'd want to
experiment, she's an odity

“I’ll talk to Simran,” Rana said
with a twisted mouth.

it won’t do any good
they’ll be desperate
to dissect her

The whole pile was stripped white, my hands stained all over and the buzzing frustration in my head reduced to a low hum. Hanna was teaching me how to weave the strips together when Rana came in.
“I heard you were in here,” she said, brandishing the screen.
I smiled at her. She smiled back, dimples flashing, and settled herself down next to me.

I'm not allowed to sit outside since I tried to crawl over the railings.

today she reads
This pine tree by the rock
must have its memories too:
after a thousand years,
see how its branches
lean towards the ground

Hanna tugged on my arm and showed me how to twist the strips again. I copied her movements until I had ten strips woven tightly together. She held her strips next to mine and began attaching them with another strip. Then she twisted the whole thing together until it made a wheel. She undid it and handed the whole thing back to me.                                                                               ……………….
“Mmgfh,” I said.                                                                                              ……………………..              …………………
There was a slight pause.                                                        ……………………                                                   …..
“What did you say?” Rana asked.                      ………………
I shrugged. Hanna patted my shoulder.             …………….
;;;;;’’………………………………                          ………
……………………………………………………………
nutrients micro-biotic activity aggregates structure and particles dead things we will rebuild the horizons

“Izumi Shikibu lived so long ago
but I feel like
I understand –
although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house

       my hands are
useless
 I remember a large dome ceiling with a tall, blackened tree and watching a tall woman wandering around a white room muttering to herself and maybe a big, grime-covered building with vines all around the outside and deep black scars running through it in the distance and hot stone like fire and one small green thing coming out of the ground, crying and crying and crying and where’s my mother why am I here I don’t like it but we can’t take care of her she doesn’t know how to

i want to say im sorry my body was inside me and it was screaming and kicking my wheelchair apart

Rana pulled me back from the edge with strong arms and soft hands that stroked my hair as she whispered shhh, shhh, you’re okay.

why won’t you just stand up stop crying say something it’s just so so so so much I can’t do it there’s this gnawing great big black monster in the back of my neck and she’s ripping me up with her big sharp teeth stop pulling out your hair bodies bodies bodies can’t you just
You’re okay. Shh. You’re okay.
I break the

                                                       red sores

gnawing on my arms
lying in the dark

with a handful of seeds

thinking now things will

get better
someone will find me
.. .    …../
…………./

weeding
bent over smudged
brown skin with
nimble fingers
she tries to
show me
what
to
do

my hands are
useless

I leaned my elbows again my knees and placed my head in my hands so I couldn’t see the passing torsos, their attached heads greeting Cora as she huffed passed them with me bouncing a little in front of her like a big sack of paper. She wheeled me out onto the pavilion. All along the rails they’ve put long sheets of fabric, flapping around with large clapping sounds that overlay all conversations. She pointed to them, then tugged on my sleeves.
“All the fabric here is weaved with energy cells,” she said, “they’re like these … little tech things that absorb energy.”
She held out an arm so that her long, grey sleeve buffeted in the wind.

“I’m harvesting energy,” she said, and turned back to me, “so are you. Even when you’re lying still, your body produces heat.”

I stared at my hands, the tiny red marks left from healing.

“not that you have to be useful,” Cora faltered, “I just thought …”
I                                                          just

Next she took me to the top floor
to see where they grow food

Rana and Hanna sat talking back and forth
with deliberate hand movements
and crinkly-eyed smiles

the sun is harsh but
they need light – she tells me
in a deliberate motions

Light? I try to sign
with resisting hands

she gestures up
and shades her eyes
“Light” Rana says
from the sun

warm
beautiful light
seeps into the plants
photosynthesis
“how much sign language
do you know?”

“Just what I taught her” Rana says
I smile
They look at each other
and back at me

It’s nice to see you
outside again

                          why did you
                give her that
       she barely
moves

you’d get more energy
tying it over the railings
way more

I                     just                    thought

the greenhouses take up the whole roof, they are covered with shaded cloth that billow in the rough wind. It’s all for energy: absorbing energy, storing energy, running it all back down to the cells that power the city. Into irrigation systems that clean the water and water the soil and that way the vines grow all around the building and the insects eat the vines and we eat the insects and the fruit and the vegetables and all I’ve ever had before was

Mushrooms, Rana said, spilling a blanket of brown, earthy food over my lap I stared at it and she said

“I thought – her eyes won’t
adjust to light

and she can’t eat the food
without throwing up,
so. Maybe mushrooms?”
I poke one it’s
unfamiliar but
less


Plant life is all over the building, inside and out. Looking up or down from the pavilion, I see endless stretches of textured greens, purples, browns, and reds. On this level, I see the shrubbery planted everywhere, the vines growing around the sides of the railings, and the long, zagging soil patches built into the concrete floors to grow food.
“We don’t know what they are,” Rana says, pulling out a thin yellow stem and shaking the dirt from its roots, “but they grow like crazy and die just as quickly. Not before killing everything else, though. That’s why we had to destroy the lower five levels. Poured chemicals everywhere and set them on fire. Level one has non-toxic air now, so we use it as quarantine.”
she squats in front of me
through my new glasses
she is dusky
as always
I want to take them off and
see her colours

if not for the pain

she says “I don’t want to push you
there’s just so much I don’t understand”

the writing above you … do you remember?
it’s okay. I’m sorry, I’m just
so confused, I

I’m scared

can you explain it?”
I strain to
open my mouth

I can’t
speak sign write think
it’s not just
stress I can’t
can’t
try to : I
rememberrememberrememberrememberrememberremember

its our
last chance
but we can’t just leave
you know this is                       All they want to do is retreat we’ll never
work again
no place to raise a kid
what if the baby grows up different
like her,                                                                  

do you want our child
to be always last to eat?

                                                                                we’ll take care of her

I will you’ll just                                                        

                                                                           do you think
                                                                                          that I wouldn’t do
                                                                                           anything for you both

prove it
prove it
prove it