Timston Johnston

even our corn

—for RW, go fuck yourself

The constellation Robert (The Other Whale) uses spider webs to catch you. Each blazed tree is a snare’s base wound by prodigious sunset. To catch him, you need October, evening, and open spaces—fields, baseball mounds, tennis courts. Empty parking lots will do, cul-de-sacs, unobstructed rooftop clerestories. It’s best not to have any veils the bastard can hide behind: no clouds, or birds, or planes, or bugs. Be wary of the eyelashes you so often ignore.

Call your people together. Locate me, bright and consistently first, his favorite Autumn diversion. Spin clockwise with my retrograde until you are so euphoric sickness seems like betrayal. Chase each other as drunks would a missed cab. Grab any shirttail and pull until it rips, until you rip, until you both fall and settle into the ground. I am small. I am close. Pluck me away as you would an apple from an orange tree. There. Dismiss my timorous apologies that the light is not my own, that I belong to no star cluster. I would confide in you if you would in me. Tell me: do you, too, fear the eventual, our end-all, red giant absorption?

If you can rise, lummox-lean into each other and walk from heap to heap. Check on the solidity of their Earth. Teach them to harmonize this low-frequency hum. This unbalanced, buzzy provocation is what reminds the whale that a pitchy self-made falsity is unregistered and will always swim alone. Louder. Almost. Together: louder. There. The twinkle in some of the stars is not the fluctuation of gasses and fusion, but the subtle waning of his ego, the deflation of his pride, and, listen, the next symptom: the warm wind out from nowhere—his purged lungs making room so he may inhale the entirety of the galaxy and spout to you exactly what he thinks of your swill laughter. Robert, (The Fool). He’s given himself away. Westerly, friends, where I had been.

Face the wind as arrogant, small-g gods face external doubt. Take a handful of dust, say this is the ash of youth, balloon it into the air, perform the pupa miracle, name the dry rain the rite of the mutable. Welcome, small-h humans. When your sight returns, cast your eyes to any point of light. Draw your own outline. All those choices, none of them wrong.

Before, you were shown the lionized shape of the fluke’s bullseye from imposters under the guise of faulty masquerades. All were him, teaching you old familiar curves, point-to-point, where to throw harpoons. Shape these liars and yell, Robert, we see all of you, you wretched shit-filled rot-sack! Circle up, chant—rumble, if you must: There, you asshole! There, you shithead! There, you fucker! Be seen. Emulsify your voices; parents will not punish what they cannot identify, though, if you knew how to listen, you would hear your mothers, your fathers, whisper, Yeahfuck that guy. They know you are close. They know, as you are about to, that whale, found, means lie, revealed. Soon, you will know I am the photophore, and Robert was never a whale.

You are here solely to learn the truth: happiness is not a certainty as you monocot into adulthood. That’s it. Everything you ever believed unravels from there. You live under the sky where the shapes and stories are nothing more than the undefinable vastness of infinity, and you, indiscriminate meals, your fate has always been to be among the swallowed. I know you expected me to be a goddess of love, but it’s just a name, and I’m just a caught body, like you. Our only power in the vacuum is to move ourselves anywhere but away from her. I’m sorry. All I ever wanted was to be left alone.

Select a voice from one of you. Meaningfully assign meaningless purpose. Tell all others who may go looking the sacrifice was significant, worthy of legacy. Here, lies are not lies when faith and hope sound the same. Martyr, ask those who have followed you, those you have forsaken, if it’s better to be one of a half or half of one. Instill your trust in them and ask what should be done. Be insouciant when they decide. Do not look to your hands—it’s not that kind of crucifixion.