Bog People

by Lydia H. Stucki

I’ve floated up empty, all my humors drained into this heavy peat. They pierced me with bone needles and left me to die for my crimes in the gnawing mire of first-frost. The bog takes and it takes and it takes even as it preserves my skin and bones and does not care if I deserve its embrace. One day I will rise to Yde with my red hair and I won’t need women like air.

Babe, there’s something wrecked about the way you walk down the aisle for the Eucharist. Like an unbeliever I stay in my seat, watching the hem of your skirt, my lips parted like a door ajar in an old hotel. Your perfect hands accept bread, and praise the Lord I can’t see the wine.

After the service, I duck behind one of the pillars to catch my breath back from the wheezing stingrays I wear as a capelet. One day I’ll stretch myself out over your grave, make myself one with the earth that separates us. The priest will find me in the morning mist and won’t believe me when I explain that I’ve been scooping your starlight out with a teaspoon for years. They always see in my eyes how I wish we were lovers.

I drip tallow on my wrists like perfume. You scoop my hair up off my neck to kiss the willow-scars hidden there. The metal bedframe creaks, doesn’t it, no matter what we do. My honeyed orchid, my bright star, I’ll swear to them that your maidenhead is that magic spark keeping you alive.

It’s the shock of the nightshade that freezes the world when they come for me. My breath rattles when they stab me and wrap my cloak around my neck like bedsheets after a nightmare. Hands, hands where I only wanted your hands, as they carried me to the bog and let me sink into the watery peat, let it fill my crevices and blind me to the world.

How many nights did I lie on your grave? Your headstone bears the indent of my grieving spine. But let’s be real, mostly I sat numbly, softly singing of roses and cherry wine.

They can’t sever our hands, love, they just can’t. It doesn’t matter how straight you might be. We’ve done nothing untoward. I meet Mother Mary’s stained glass eyes without shame.

In the depths of your bower, I smear peat over myself, preparing for the knife like for a contraction. Any questions from the crowd for this changeling? Yes: what the fuck? I laugh it off and let down my hair. The bog made me from winter fog and bran muffin mix and to it I will return.

They ask: what madness is this obsession with her own sex? What witchcraft?

It’s so impossible to forget the feeling of lying on your breasts, of finding myself more real, more solid with the softness of your body against mine. How I became molten in your arms, how you played with my hair, how we barely moved for hours.

God has coerced me into life. I would that it were not a sin to die. Were it not a sin, I would slice my breast to the bone by my own hand. I would bleed out in ecstasy, were it not a sin.

You coughed poppies for weeks, ripping the lining of your lungs and the skin of your throat. Color against the gray-green bog. In death, your face grayed too, its pallor matching the stone church walls. I entered late and saw you lying at the altar. And I forgot, and wailed your name before all the assembled company as if I were your lover.

Lydia H. Stucki is a letter writer, a swing dancer, a yarn collector, a cello player, and a genre bender. She has a Skyrim wife, too much chai tea, and a piece published in Crab Fat. You can find her @lhstucki.
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