Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Inside of My History Are These Moments

BY J.A. TYLER



Inside of my history are these moments. The moment I built the first house, the first fox stopping by its doorstep, placing a broken stick at its feet. The second fox who I caught and skinned and whose skin I wore as a cape, accusing the sun of never rising. The first house that I burned down. The first house that I did not live in.

The second house I built on the other side of a mountain, over snow and back into rain, where the sky attempted shine. The second house was a bear; the second house was my playing card tricks and the bear laughing, enjoying the sleights, until I trapped him inside and set flame to the walls, until the second house tumbled. That bear grinning teeth at tricks, who wanted me to say to him, over and again, Is this your card? holding up the jack of spades as the fire went through hide.

The third house was built on a lake, beneath its water, and the river leading into it led up to me, was a wrap of arms around my dying body, this dead body, drowned beneath a single sheet of paper that my brother handed to my hand, that had in its white a black dot, that had on its surface the moment of my death. The third house was impossible to burn, sinking as it was, but the violin inside of it played beautiful music and the first fox laughed down into our faces. The first fox laughing until I returned to the site of my first burned down house, until I rebuilt that first house, until he went into that first house searching for his second fox brother, the wet fur I was already wearing, and I burned down the world around him.

Inside of a mountain was where I built the fourth house. It was dark and surrounded in rock. It was a cave in a house in a mountain, that fourth house. And when I torched those insides, it left a blaze on the hillside like a star unglued from the sky. The darkness within that house made memories to relive, contained too many lies, my brother’s hand handing me my death on paper, the moment of ever-on in woods. To begin without ending, that is the kind of fire burning down houses. My brother who was a deer, chasing me through forests.

And the fifth house, the one I made of yarn and wool and scarf-remnants, it felt as lost as the first four, and it withered in flame as they had. I have started all of these fires, I have skinned or burned all of these brother-animals, for they are not my brother, and what I am looking for inside of them is so far buried still. The yarn-house, this fifth house, it led me in circles until I was back and inside of myself, unsure as to where my feet had walked. And the darkness there, inside of these last moments of being, as we die, they are torment. The burning down of these houses, it is imperative, and it is the only comfort we can find. When we are dying, there is no other way to exist, except in these woods.