In Lak’ech Ala K’in

May 28th, 2012 | By | Category: Fiction

We’re so much more alone than we ever knew. Secrets burn the hottest of all and flame the world that I see this beautiful blue, and then the ashes fall in my eyes and I can’t see but its okay. I’ve always loved grey anyway.

I live in a hothouse, filled with fumes and other creeping things. Feelings burn and decay here, like isotopes. What is the half-life of hope? Love glows, but is it safe? The men around me have a hard geometry, as if pressed and formed by the very architecture of this place, all planes and sharp angles. At night, even the shadows cut.

Winterlong I marked the last stars of the iced dawn sky, like an ancient pagan praying for the cessation of his god’s hostility. With warmth would come life; not from the stirring earth but by my freedom. Every evening the sun would gasp and stretch out arms towards me a little longer, and I would sleep to wake in growing light. But prison has a way of boiling the stock of human experience, reducing things to their essence. Everything is archetypal; nuance has no place among the incarcerated. Nature is no exception.

See, in my world, there are no flowers. In my world, there are no trees. Within the vast and encircling chain-link and razor-wire line of demarcation lays only concrete thoroughfares and a weedy, parasitic grass. Ringing the horizon in every direction is a troop of evergreen sentinels, of uniform size and military preciseness, who watch us endlessly without comment and block all news of the distant world.

April is the cruelest month, he says, but here it is no crueler than any other. All we have are memory and desire, bread and water, and we feed greedily no matter the season. The calendar date affects us only insofar as it affects those on the street with whom we maintain some tenuous and fragile connection. It is one of our few concessions to that other, faraway reality. We think in years and decades, untroubled by mere months. Thus is a semblance of sanity preserved among those who wake every morning to the terrible knowledge that they forfeited the prime of their life to that leering flashing moment in which they had but one simple choice, and chose madness.

For me, though, the disease progresses differently. I secretly make a calendar and hide it- contraband not to the prison authorities but to whoever else might casually be in my room and spy it. I constantly compare temperatures from day to day, insinuating warming trends on the scantest evidence. When Daylight Savings Time sprang suddenly upon my head I shivered and shouted with relief. Still… no matter the omens, the morning breathed brisk and the afternoon denied me that unmistakable burnt tinge of true heat. When it rained the fatted drops dove down through tepid air to splash my face like silver nickels, each one a cold shock from the far above, chill reminders. I looked for birds, but there were none. I looked for bees, but they had no business inside this desiccated circle. With no context I waited for a clue that my salvation was approaching, that my exile was ending, that I could go home again to Greensboro singing my name.


Visceral Spring. Violent Spring. Naked Spring, stripped of her vestments, no longer my unconsummated promise. The bleached air hums and sears the bits of green glass blown up from the dirt into my skin, pollen squirms and swarms my swollen eyes, styrofoam clouds are summer-strewn across the tender blue deepening. My dull roots explode.


Christopher Gagnon is a person who writes and lives in Greensboro. He thinks of food primarily as a sauce delivery system and hopes one day to letter in a sport. Also bacon.

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