PUPAE | by Garett Strickland

     Slowly, tenderly but with some force, Anna’s fingers pulled apart – with the soft sound of long-trapped air finally now releasing – what could maybe be seen as a mouth. Felt to think to call a mouth, she did, yes, ‘mouth’ – but no. What could fit? She puzzled her head in a swarm, uncertain.

     Uncertain as she’d been when wandering through these darker woods and having chanced upon the clearing, her eye seized at what faintly seemed to stir beneath the small pile of brush and ivy that swelled within its center. Curiosity aroused, she’d picked at the shadowy mound and found thereunder, this, a sudden musk, thread-thin veins webbing out ‘neath whey-white skin.

     Mouth, she decided, and gently scooped away the mucus. She smiled, wiped her hands clean on some nearby leaves.

     Despite excitement, she stopped and considered. Such as it was, the ceremony she’d had congealing balked abruptly. Daddy will want for dinner soon. Besides, better to wait. Always better to wait and build suspense. She stood, flustered dirt from the skirts of her dress, and took off skipping homeward. On her way away, she sang.

     Days later, Anna retraced her way back through, to where things lay just as she had left them. Still striking, that mouth, and the face – or whatever – that frames it. She observed that the mouth, as it were, was still open, and the face – (or whatever) – in which it resided still looked as it had when her eyes first fell upon it. She felt the same mysterious and exciting curiosity begin to overwhelm her, churning her innards, full of butter. She felt light-headed, dizzy, like the time she snuck a drink from the bottle in her Papa’s cabinet. (But Heavenly Father, was he ever furious when he found out!) She felt her blossoming breast flush with warmth from the heart that swelled inside it, and a tingling tingle parts of her that had heretofore not tingled. Oh, but this was surely what it was to be a woman! Anna thought and thought she felt in her posture and the arrangement of her features a dignified elegance, the newly-budding seeds of the ancient beauty of her sex. Yes, she was a lady, like she imagined her Mother must have been. Can only imagine, yes, for Papa always gets so upset when I ask about her, and smites my face and locks me in my room, she recounting, short of breath, his frightening power, and the look in his eyes that seemed always to betray something apart from anger – something of which he, himself, appeared very nearly afraid. That is, of course, if he, brave as he was, was capable of fear. But whereas, before, this expression of his had always left her puzzled, she now felt she finally understood…

     Anna stared at the pallid heap lying motionless in front her. “Well, hello there,” she managed in her most sultry of tones, and knelt beside it, the moist forest floor seeping through her clothes and dampening her knees. She broke a twig from a neighboring bush to rouse the centipedes and spiders from its fair and gaping mouth, and then, noting some fungi that had sprouted up since her last visit, picked and flicked it loose from the elastic, curdled flesh, quivering and retreative at her touch, before she subsequently lowered her head to press an ear against it. She was greeted with a dull pulsation, an echoic throb. Was this the sound of her own heart beating, or was it his? … And were they not one in the same?

     Anna, leaning forward, was interrupted by the horrible sound of her own name as heard through the resonate roar of her Father’s call. Quickly, she sprang to her feet and ran as fast as they could take her through the maze and wind of the way that she had come by, all the while whispering: Oh please. God. Heaven help me.


     It was in the darkness of that same evening, now nearly night, that Anna, trying to muffle her sobs so as to stealth herself, felt her way along the trail entrusted to her memory. Vision blurred by tears and dimming light, she tripped and gripped across branch and log and root-strewn recollection, driven onward by that which she could not place but which she placed much stock in. For it was hers – she owned it, she knew – and it would lead her to her solace. And so it did, then, as she found herself inside the clearing, knew that she was there by intuition, and her hands arrived upon him and caused the creatures therein and about to scurry out and into the underbrush.

     “Oh, oh, oh,” she cried, “I hate him! I hate him! You’re all that I have in the world,” her tear-streaked cheek against his spongy bulk, her needful fingers searching out the hollow of his mouth and, upon finding it, showing her own where it should go. And so her lips replaced her fingertips and, with an urgency she’d never known, her tongue forced its way inside to slick around – to slick around inside.




GARETT STRICKLAND is the editor of .PLINTH., ICHNOS, and other publications of the Unwin-Dunraven Literary Ecclesia. He is the author of a long-poem, WHOA DONT CARE (Jerkpoet, 2015) and UNGULA (forthcoming from Solar ▲ Luxuriance). He’s an ordealist. 

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