I tried learning the language of plants to liberate myself in this post-earthquake era. I took lessons from the creak of the sunflowers revolving. It is hard to follow, how they stretch their muscles in the weird and strong ways that they move. They were bad teachers, and I became instead enraptured by the risky magic of stones sharpening under water, their bare bodies more malleable than I gave them credit for before. Progress in the case of stones is not growth, but a diminishing. Before the faultlines, Progress was expansion, bricks, piled in clever and imposing designs. I used to save the rocks, in great handfuls, from the water, from the suffering that came with becoming less.
Expansion. Development. Growth. These were the ideals of my previous world, the ideals the sunflowers clung to. I did not know they existed solely as a backdrop in the wisdom of living. There is no spirit in the sunflowers, only a robotic routine of a bygone era.
I shied away from the potential workforce for these games of war. Modern living was an unimaginable expectation, which amounted to neglect. Self-actualization became a substitute for death. The antidote was authentic suffering and the detachment was symptomatic.
When are we supposed to live?
Born and raised in California, Ana Cottle studied Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley with a focus on feminist Yiddish poetry and translation. She also spent several years working, writing, and translating in Uruguay and Argentina, as well as conducting literary research as a Helix Fellow of Yiddishkayt LA in Poland, Belarus and Lithuania. Currently, she is the Poetry Editor of Carve Magazine. Her poems, translations, and flash fiction have been published in Hobart, Ofi Press, Alba, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Rabid Oak, Mojave Heart Review, FIVE:2:ONE, and several other journals.