Waiting in Line at KFC, Trying to Start a Conversation with a Stranger

I dig my fingers between the black roots of the mangrove tree. My leg up on one of its branches,
slips and plunges half a foot down into the cloud from which the tree grew. A lone white leaf
falls in the commotion. I think, perhaps, it had not been raised properly, or the worms had done
some irreversible, psychological damage. Off in the distance, atop another cloud, a fox circles a
water machine. Knowing that the water’s contaminated, I start at the fox to let him know of the
danger. I make a cross with my arms while the fox, well, he foxes.

I recall an old wives’ tale
about the fox and the old man.
They were business partners when the world turned to fire.
What remains (so they say) are clouds.
Did they make it out alright?
Either of them?
I’m not sure.
Are you going to order the ten-piece?
It’s just…
There was a lot of fire, you know?
A lot of fire in a lot of places.

Suddenly, I fall through the cloud I’m standing in. I fall until I hit another cloud and fall through
that one too. I keep falling, faster and faster, through an increasing number of clouds until
eventually I’m enveloped in a thick white mist. Things are still and flat now, like I’ve been
sublimated into an oil painting. In my back pocket I hear the fox make fox sounds, but I’m too
comfortable to act.


stones fly in the sky
the world it becomes smaller
a tree falls through me



Image: KFC by Mike Mozart, licensed under CC 2.0.

Shin Watanabe
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