Momentary Sage

Eric Schwitzgebel

The Dark (2015), issue #8


That midsummer's night, after we four collapsed in fairy sleep beneath boughs and moon, I roused to see a sprite looping through the flowers. Carrying a single seed in his ant-leg fingers, he ducked beneath Hermia's skirts. She turned once, in dream.

The past is nothing but the shapes and colors that now arise before my mind.


Here's how I imagine the birth nine months later:

The baby slides out amid blood and night-blue dust. In place of a left hand, the child has a tusk, shiny and sharp.

The midwife stands between Hermia and the flexing child. "The child is a devil," the midwife says. As she lowers him to meet his reflection in the water basin, I imagine him realizing his brevity.

"No," says Hermia. "I love him!" She reaches out her arms - I picture them bare, trembling, unbeautiful - and reluctantly the midwife draws the infant back out of the water.

While the midwife angrily washes and gathers, the child places the sharp point of his tusk upon his chest, whispering so that only Hermia can hear. "Non-existence," he says, "sets a floor beneath suffering. But milk is also good."


I imagine Lysander's first encounter with the child:

He bounds into the birth room and lays six wild bluebells on the bedstand. He kisses his damp wife. Instantly, he loves the child; instantly, he feels that he, Lysander, is bare and the child is clothed. Disregarding the child's one most obvious feature, he touches the child's belly, his chin, his bald philosophical head. He covers the child's back with one hand and says, "We will call him Sage. He will hurry to wisdom."

[continued here]


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