The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2019

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SEPT 2019 Issue


By the Dawn’s Early Light

The hunter woke at sunrise and shot a plane out of the sky.
When the plane crashed in the forest, it said, “Oh, am I ever glad not to be in the sky anymore! I hated it up there so much. Always so cold, always so… full of people…”
But the hunter could tell the plane still wanted to be in the sky because of how its eyes shifted when it spoke, so she felt happy.
When the hunter returned home that night, her wife asked her what meat she had hunted for dinner.
“I found us no meat, my dear, but I did ruin a plane’s life,” the hunter said, and her wife burst into tears of joy.
Then, hungrily, the two of them danced until sunrise to old records.


When I first looked in the mirror, I thought I looked dead, but I had simply become a child. Beside my face was a blue cake so radiant, even its light was edible.

The Clairvoyant Mother

On a car ride through certain beautiful mountains, the boy's deaf mother says, “Son, you just have the best taste in music.”
The boy thinks to himself, “But mother… You're deaf.”
And the mother, reading the boy's mind, answers:
“But son, I can hear you hearing the music while it plays, and that makes it sound all the sweeter…”

Imaginary Children


I found my house in a trash can. Nobody had lived in it for a long time so there were cobwebs over every window. Everything was still just where the people had left it only now it was upside down and covered with dust. Trapped under each object was a single bug and I walked around the house turning everything right side up and freeing the insects because I was lonely. Most of them ran away because bugs don’t trust people but one cricket walked along with me and even helped me lift a couch. Under the couch my grandmother was hiding. She said “Now don’t you go tell your father about what you’ve seen!” I read her a book and she made me a sandwich with un-toasted bread between two slices of toasted bread. In the refrigerator there was so much moldy old food that little cities had formed and in their sky was a big door. When the cricket and I floated through the door we came out onto the real world. But everything was upside down and all the big bugs had little humans trapped in jars. There was a really large version of the cricket who had a really little version of me. But I wasn’t even on a leash and we were eating ice cream. The cricket jumped on my shoulder and we ran across the upside-down world.


When I went pee today something funny happened and I laughed. You probably won’t believe me anyway so why should I tell you? I was peeing and a tiny version of me came up out of the toilet and told me to stop peeing on him. When I told him I wasn’t peeing on anybody he told me to look up if I wanted to know the truth. When I looked up I saw that I was inside a toilet too and that a giant version of me was peeing down on me from above. So I climbed up to him and said “Stop peeing on me!” And the giant me said “But I’m not peeing on anybody!” And I said “Look up!” And the giant me looked up from the toilet he was inside and saw an even gianter me who was peeing down onto him from an even larger and higher toilet. After a few more times we came back to the beginning. But this time I knew not to pee on the tiny me in the toilet so I peed out the window onto my mean neighbor’s favorite tree. Everything was covered in pee now. It was quiet and dark out. The littlest me of all asked me how long was the longest I had ever peed for and I told him the truth which was that I didn’t know but that I remembered peeing once for most of a morning. Then he asked me something else about my pee but I don’t remember what because I was distracted by how I had to go again. He made a little bonfire in the forest of my eyelashes and asked to build a house there too and I said okay. But the one rule I never let him break was that he always had to pee off the edge because peeing onto other people is serious business.


The blade of grass rode a leaf in the wind down to the ant’s house. She knocked thirty times but no one answered. From the forest the ant and his mother watched the blade of grass knocking on the door and told ghost stories. In these stories every ghost was a blade of grass and every human was an ant. A flashlight shined on a boy’s face and he screamed the word “Ants.” Then after a while everything returned to normal. The last time I told you this story you said it had no point but I hope you understand what I mean this time around.


This is what I want to talk about. How can the world be so beautiful if beauty is only an idea? When I was a girl everyone in my neighborhood bought my orange juice. Even the postman. My dog made it at home but no one believed me when I told them so. Suddenly a man on a horse came. He talked a language I didn’t know and then everyone on the street started talking in that language. When I tried to talk to anyone that week no one understood me because they spoke the other language now. Frogs came too and ostriches and other things and they were also speaking the stranger’s language not mine anymore. One day I sold an orange juice to my favorite ostrich. She whispered in my ear that she wanted to pay me with something better than money. I said okay because how do you argue with an ostrich? She coughed up a big rock onto my table and said I already knew what to do with it but I didn’t. My poor dog was sick and her orange juice was making everyone sick too. I placed the rock on her belly and she got better just like the fortune teller had predicted. The next morning I set up my orange juice stand. The man on the horse rode by speaking in his language with everyone but me. I threw the ostrich’s rock at him and he shattered into a million pieces like a burning window. All that was left of him on his horse’s back was a dictionary of the language he had spoken. But no one could speak it anymore and no one even remembered him.


Some people live forever and some people live for only two days. Fifty years ago I met an immortal piece of bacteria who had just finished living out two hundred years in a yogurt container. He had always been alive somewhere he said. He told me about his childhood friend. A girl made of pure sugar. She was the one who put sour candy into those soda bottles and let them sit together for a long time and then sold these elixirs to the sandwich eaters in town. Don’t you remember? The bacteria said he first thought of her like a sister but that after two years he ended up falling in love with her because that’s how it happened. Two hours later after she had raised their eight children to grow up tall and strong and then two-hundred years later he still cried whenever he said her name. What a sweet girl he said. And then he started to cry. “How many families have you had?” I asked. Sniffling he said he is the father of everyone on earth.


Kit Schluter

Kit Schluter is author of Pierrot’s Fingernails (Canarium Books). Among his recent and forthcoming translations are Rafael Bernal’s His Name Was Death (New Directions), Copi’s The Queens’ Ball (Inpatient Press), and Bruno Darío’s Lantana trilogy (Ugly Duckling Presse). He lives in Mexico City.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2019

All Issues