Stone Telling

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The Chute

by Lyn Coffin

        When you wake up fully
        for the last time you are being
        chased by a three-member hive. You
        are running down an open-air chute left from
        the old civilization. Its sloped yellow sides force you
        to run straight down the middle. Thick dust testifies to
        a long time of disuse. You breathe only through your filterclip.
        You do not know where the chute leads. It would make sense if
        it led to the wide waters, and much of the old civilization was built
        on sense. You have been running a long time, but you still have plenty
        of bloodwater, and one of the new non-fail hoses. You will give out long
        before your nutriment system. Your foot-, leg-, trunk-, arm-, hand-, neck-, and
        head-gear are in excellent shape. You will give out long before your gear. You are
        in better shape than the hive chasing you. There are three of them, but there is no virtue
        in that. They will encourage each other, but they will waste energy in it. The chute is narrow.
        They will impede each other. The sky is clear and the moons are aligned overhead. You
        will give out before the weather changes. This is what there is—running and breathing
        and sucking bloodwater. You put your mind on pilot. You will give out before your
        mind. In a former life, you gave your mate your poison for the inheritors. You
        have a knife but self-attack was your weakest subject at the academy.
        Normal suicide is no longer an option.The only choice is run or be
        overtaken. Death is certain, but there are better delivery systems
        than a hive of non-gun killers.
        You run.
        Now you are running in
        the dark. Now in the light.
        Now in the dark. At the coming
        of the third light, the chute ends abruptly.
        You are on a non-stone beach. The water ahead
        of you is calm and smooth. A breeze ruffles the waves
        to white froth. You push the shed button and your gear falls away.
        You untrigger the filterclip and unstrap the bloodwater apparatus, and let them fall.
        Naked, you enter the sea. The land under your feet quickly drops away and
        you are surprised to feel how easily you are lifted up. You move your
        hands and feet awkwardly at first, but gradually you get the knack,
        and begin to move. The water is an ally, pulling you away from
        land. You look back and see the killers on the beach. As you
        watch, they trade a few shoves and punches. The tallest
        picks up your filterclip. All three sit down to wait. They
        have what they want, within reason. So do you. Your
        job now is to exhaust yourself. Once you are
        exhausted, it will not be hard to drown.
        Your whole life has led you to this.
        You will do death well.
        You swim.

Lyn Coffin's 9th book was published in 2011 by Night Publishing (UK). White Picture is Lyn's translations into English of Jiri Orten, a Czech killed in the holocaust—one of the 20th century's greatest poets. In 2012, her translations of Dato Barbakadze (amazing!) will be published by Night, and her anthology of Georgian poetry in translation is under consideration at Slavica (Indiana University). She's been a playwright, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king. (cf. Wikipedia) Other poems forthcoming at About Place Journal. Well-liked in Poughkeepsie. Wherever she goes, that's where she endeavors to be. Namaste.