BUCKETS by Brian Kubarycz
10/20/11
 


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Many bodies fell out of the sky that day. It was hail such as we had never seen this season of the year, even if it had rained real hail, not human bodies. But human bodies—just parts of them—fell on our cars and houses. They struck at us directly, and hard enough to knock some of us down. Though we did not let the weather, the novelty and cruelty of it, get the better of us. Not at once. We bundled as we had for more familiar storms, in layers and impermeable suits and rainshoes, stepped into the street.

The hands and feet made slapping sounds and bounced. Each sounded so familiar, no stranger than the sound of running barefoot in the heat. Though it was louder, as a mass, than any single runner, loud as an audience exploding with applause after a performance through which it sat both still and silent, though feeling fervently and straining not to rise too soon to its six thousand feet. Its clapping would be thunderous, as was the weather raging overhead.

Great masses crashed above us, great vapors clashed. We could hear loud smacking hands and feet, bourn up and circulating through the thundercaps, as we waded through the puzzlebox of interlocking fingers.

We tried to step through them without working further wounds, step over wet piles washed or crawled into handdrifts, fingers still reaching, after what it was not clear. Finger often found another finger. And each would hook about the other, as if to form or seal a pact against the mass of us whose hands remained attached to human sleeves and had not yet rained down in bruising sheets or snagged in cherry trees until they blossomed with soft pink and fleshy hues.

It was a breeze that seemed to stir the cherry trees, for all the wind sliced through our tightest-knitted scarves and overcoats, for all it flecked us with the blood that should have been even more abundant given the number of hands and feet, of fingers squirming, of toes splaying as if this were just another morning to wake at sunrise and stretch in bed before boiling water and plastering trimmed hair.

The wind whipped up the hair on the heads that fell about us. As the rain ran down the faces, it was not the blood or tears which moved us. Nor was it the grimaces—and these were hideous—but it was the way the faces tried to speak. We heard no familiar words. Even the syllables were perverted by the injuries the faces had sustained. Some heads had broken open. Others, their fall had been broken by a pile of feet or hands. A cracking we heard as heads met pavement, or a thumping that struck us suddenly, caused us to wince at the instant recollection of old childhood injuries. We tried to shut our ears.

But we could not shut our eyes to the parting of the lips, many of them split and bleeding, some of them torn open to reveal two rows of broken teeth. The lips pursed and stretched and parted, barely pausing to fight back the pain that seemed to shake them to the point of rolling. It was their whispering we were sure we heard, somehow, above the wind and splash of blood and brain. And it was this which finally brought us to our knees, drew our bodies down so that we each could take a head into our hands, steady or cradle it, rock it as if the sleep would somehow help it heal, somehow return its body, somehow return it to the clouds from which more hands rained down. We rocked the heads, and smoothed their hair, while others of us patted hands or rubbed arches and heels. The grasping and the twitching ceased. And lids closed over the now-sleepy eyes.

We bowed deeper, tilting our own heads, resting them against the shattered mouths. We listened as each sleeper's breath became more even. Then they began to speak again, as if from dreams. They spoke almost more clearly, spoke almost in our waking tongue, spoke almost with their wet tongues in our waiting ears.

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Brian Kubarycz writes and paints in Salt Lake City, where he teaches Intellectual Traditions for the Honors College of the University of Utah. His writing has appeared in The Quarterly, Black Warrior Review, Puerto Del Sol, Unsaid, New York Tyrant, and other venues.

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