It was not the fear of ridicule,
to which everyday life as a winged red person had accommodated Geryon early in life,
but this blank desertion of his own mind
that threw him into despair. Perhaps he was mad. In the seventh grade he had done
a science project on this worry.
It was the year that he began to wonder about the noise that colors make. Roses came
roaring across the garden at him.
He lay on his bed at night listening to the silver light of stars crashing against
the window screen. Most
of those he interviewed for the science project had to admit they did not hear
the cries of the roses
being burned alive in the noonday sun. Like horses, Geryon would say helpfully,
like horses in war.No, they shook their heads.
Why is grass called blades? he asked them. Isn’t it because of the clicking?
They stared at him. You should be
interviewing roses, not people, said the science teacher. Geryon liked this idea.
The last page of his project
was a photograph of his mother’s rosebush under the kitchen window.
Four of the roses were on fire.
They stood up straight and pure on the stalk, gripping the dark like prophets
and howling colossal intimacies
from the back of their fused throats. Didn’t your mother mind—