© Rowena Easton 2002

Moth

A flash-bulb moon has collapsed the interior. Its light paints her back a flat grey-white, pastes her onto a bare landscape. The outline of her body hangs against the thread, which runs the length of this linear world. And a river’s yellow water is burned away in an instant. Emptied of volume; its shrunken, ragged edges start to peel from the wall of sky. A long time ago she started her walk along the riverbed. She was unsure of what else to do. It was the only indication. The nothingness is the imprint of a somethingness. She figured. It will take me. She forgets now. Her movement is automatic; footsteps settle into a muted rhythm. There is no reason to disrupt their faithful tread. A thought flutters briefly inside her head. Just a tickle, but enough to spasm her brain into activity. And she begins to count her steps. One, two, three … "Onwards and upwards". She thinks. five hundred thirty-six, five hundred thirtyseven, five hundred thirty-eight …

four hundred eighty-one thousand. two thousand. The thought reappears to irritate her mind. two hundred seventy-nine … She now appears to wade through a sequence of stills. four hundred eighty-one thousand. one hundred twenty-four. casting twittering shadows for tiny instances. six hundred eighty-thousand. seven hundred seventy-two million. one million. nine hundred ninety-three … "I'm barely moving". one hundred twenty-five … A stride that takes longer and longer to complete.Adjusting her pace to their value. before bringing her heel in a gentle fall towards the earth. two thousand. She beats it off with a shake of her head. She thinks. And forgets to count. nine hundred ninety-two. . seven hundred seventy-two million. before snatching itself away again. two hundred seventy-eight. two thousand. Each numbered slice to instruct upon the anatomy of locomotion. one hundred twenty-three. two hundred thirty-six billion. two hundred thirty-six billion. It flickers at the periphery of her vision. as if it has slackened its pull. she bends her knee to keep it carefully balanced in mid air. She's making better progress now. The higher she climbs the slower her progress. A fat moon once hung low. six hundred eighty-thousand. A step turns into a stride. Now it eyeballs the back of her wasted figure from a greater distance. Stretching her leg out in front. one million.

seven hundred seventy-two million. She follows at a leisurely 4 kilometres an hour. The river has lost its ability to shape the land. and fifth. four hundred eighty-two thousand. four steps is left standing in the two hundred thirty-six billion. seven hundred seventy-two million. Grazing the banks with her bleeding shoulders. The vast surface area of a delicate structure quivers: momentary morphological contractions .) Then: it would have swept her up with small pieces of rock. Lightly she would have travelled. But the water is gone. Broader. (The speed at which the waters once flowed.With the heavenly weightlessness achieved through the release of great energy she floats comfortably back into an easy rhythm and allows herself to drift. four hundred eighty-two thousand. The thought is persistent. The tension of the last two hundred thirty-six billion. Her feet scuff the ripples of blown dust. And she is certain now. The moon flicks a blemish from its vitreous skin. she looks back. A monstrous shadow skims silently across the earth: the inky proof of a soaring tachistoscopic beast. Scratching the bed with her frantic toes. For the first time since she started walking. The riverbed leads constantly. Deeper.

she begins to run. She hears its syncopic beat against her ribcage.flicking it between appearance and disappearance: one anxious moment thrusts itself forward instantly there is another to take its place. It is countless little deaths before her eyes. She tastes its powdery shroud in the tightening membrane of her throat. Her feet land heavily. The whispered wings fold themselves protectively around her. She feels it trapped in the hollow beneath the tight skin of her belly. A creature absorbed then recreated by the moon in unknowable fragments of time. 
 . She turns to face the road again and is dissolved in a wash of loud morning. breaking the earth.