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Nils Michals

There is nothing terrible

There is nothing terrible here to step out from under. No one says it is not a box, snug in the palm, and of a color and material of your choosing. You must open it. It requires an impossibly tiny key which (surprise) is hanging deep inside your left ear, as keys are wont to do, on a ring of stirrup bone. Remember: there is no terrible thing. The lock's click will be satisfying in both feel and sound. No terrible thing, just a silvery darkness. Whatever near persons are telling you is probably true. Whatever's in your pocket—chapstick, receipt for said chapstick, keys that no longer matter—you can remove and gift wholeheartedly to those persons near or far, familiar or strange. Say yes, here is my car. Here is my house. This is for the lips. Remember: the dark is silver-leafed, like a well catching the surface light in stages down. Don't you see? No? Because once inside it is not (surprise, again) like a well. Once inside you must drift down. You must let yourself sail down into the glinty black, which is deep and wide. Of things that are deep and wide, this is deeper, wider, immeasurably so, and in time you will feel it as such, the change in tone, the drifting away of any undermost floor. It is a terrible, terrible thing, this dropping into nothingness. And it is not like a well at all.

It is just an undermost

It is just an undermost without an under, a sky the earth raises up to meet, something blacker just beneath, and an indeterminate bird flying through. In this box the felt is that blue, is empty you believe, except for a silhouette approaching from the far right corner. Perhaps not so much sky as lake. Or, rather more Pre-Cambrian, a loch, something wild in another time, now not entirely understood. No jewel can live here for fear it be wholly diffused. The blue is technically Prussian, a compound of iron, antidote to cesium poisoning. Did you know this? I didn't. From the far right corner a silhouette: it is a fjord, a long inky arm of sea flooding until no, it is not, it is a fjordhorse whose taken path through the grasses darkens behind it. Have you seen one? I haven't, but I hear it is like a simple longing. For example, to own a house and then do things within that house: shape a fire, read, throw a child in the air. The horse is squat and dun-coated, is ridiculously muscular, its mane unroached, a pure and animal heat pouring from its nostrils. It too was once wild, broken for work, but then returned itself to wildness in a way not entirely researchable. It is what makes the blue allocutionary, formal as a square of funeral uniform. Nothing goes on that uniform. As for the horse, will you put a harness on that horse? I didn't think so. No harness goes on that horse. It is a box, yes, with six sides and lined in blue, but nothing will ever go inside it.

Here are some items

Here are some items someone suggested you'll need when the world ends: dice box, night cap, lottery ticket, horse pistol. Do you remember the horse, the absurdly unharnessable one? A box opened and there it was dragging a whole fjord into a landscape until it would no longer do so. Landscapes, plein-air types, have a tendency, like the loves we bear, to make us tire. It is preferable to misplace memory so as to better comport ourselves in front of women, children as the Earth is riven fantastically before us. For example, for one recollection a polished walnut stock is all that remains. Besides, will you be the one to shoot that horse? I didn't think so. Here is the same someone's dream before she put those items in a box not to be opened: I heard heavenly music in my ears, and a flock of sheep was gathering round it. When the music ceased, the sheep leaped for joy, and ran together, shaking their heads, and one shook his head almost off, and seemed to have nothing but ears. It is like that, no? The private fervor before the public pillory? To say no, I do not remember is one way to make a sky. But to drag some cloud into it is to give it away entirely. Seriously, lottery ticket? Dice box? Night cap? Someone's sense is a very dark humor, one I'd like to hear more about, perhaps some late afternoon when the plains open as after a brief torrent, and my head leaps for the sky and I am all ears.

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