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Thirst for Light, Steven Bergmark

CW: mentions of blood

What lays a promised life low? How does a home become a tomb?

The trees bend over the river. Were it not for the wind that presses them back, they would crash in, tearing at the soil that anchors their roots. They writhe with one another, fighting for the sun that pours over the water.

Woodsmen know the spot. They know that this tension of sun and wind

strengthens the woods and keeps the trees straight.

Elm and oak choke each other, desperate, yearning. The light fades behind a leafier, luckier tree.

A man could build a good home with that yearning. Four flush walls of straight, howling thirst, one log stacked upon another. Men have, men will. Warm hearths, welcoming thresholds.

Many wonder, after the hand of Abel appears overhead, after poison flows into their blackening organs, after smoke gives way to fire, how could this be?

They’d sown it themselves. They’d built it, their end of a promised life. Sap, much like blood, grasps for light. When the sap dries, the thirst does not. It hardens.

The house is locked, the windows shuttered. The trees reach over and darken the house.

Inside, in the stillness, the blood hardens.


Steven Bergmark lives and writes in Chicago. He teaches high school English and humanities on the south side. You can find his work in Sinking City and Sledgehammer Lit.

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