Root, dirt, rag. Eat, brush, wash.
I stand at the riverbank at dawn with all of the other women, and we rake clothes over rocks. Marsh-weed stalks jut through shallows. Tadpoles blink into puffs of mud. How does anything ever get clean, I wonder.
Beyond the river rests the pasture. Beyond the pasture, the mountains. Past the mountains, I see the giants lumbering along the horizon. Immense men and women, hundreds and sometimes thousands of feet tall, all muscle and meat. One of them looks hurt? It stumbles, naked, and braces on a cliff to keep from falling. My chest tightens.
Back to work. I toss chunks of root into my mouth, smack debris from Tommy’s jerkin, and drag its tough cloth roughly through the water. Yes, my thighs hurt, and I toss chunks of root into my mouth, smack debris from Tommy’s jerkin, and drag it roughly through the water. Sure, my hips ache, and I toss chunks of root into my mouth, smack debris from Tommy’s jerkin, and drag it roughly through the water.
This same pattern repeats all around me, in different iterations (another snack, someone else’s attire, some other water), one motion and then the next rippling through the bodies of all these women, mothers daughters wives.
Our unity here on the bank is both a fact and an accident all at once. We’re every one of us doing our own thing, that’s for damn sure, without any care for each other. These are my roots, this is my dirt, my pile of clothes. Surely, we could hardly find the time together (or energy even) to plan a performance at such a scale as this, many dozens of women strong, rising and falling like pistons on the shore. But with only three choices to make here in the shallow waters – eat, brush, wash – we incidentally synchronize. We fall into step. We move together.
The fact of this haphazard unity extends far back from the water into town, into the streets and shops, even our homes, our beds, our hands and hearts. Everyone everywhere, all of us, we make our choices and live our own lives, yes, of course we do. How else could one moment unfold into the next? Janet bakes her bread at three PM and so then comes four PM, just as always, and Erin mends her stockings at dusk so then comes night and even the day, how else can it be. And Janet doesn’t consult Erin on flour before firing up the oven, Erin does not commission Janet’s stitch expertise before starting her needlework, no, of course not, no more than one hour consults the next, and no more than dusk commissions the advice of day. It just happens, as a matter of course, and without conspiracy.
Though our choices are our own, they are distinctly limited. We all grew up here, learned here, saw these trees, these roads, these fields and this river. There have only ever been so many men, so many ways a body can map onto another. The variables are admittedly more diverse than roots, dirt, and rags, broader than eat, brush, and wash, yes, but there are still only so many ways in which what has been presented to us might mix and match in any logical fashion. Houses, husbands, dinners and deaths. And so we have entered into a kind of living chorus in our lives, where what we do individually comes to underline and bolster what we do as a group, one life echoing and harmonizing the next, whether we like it or not. We haven’t chosen it, this chorus, not deliberately, and our unrelenting synchronicity surprises us and feels beautiful for its unheralded arrival, even divine, as if ordained from on high. Yes, it is fascinating. This beauty. This harmony. This concert of choices. Yes. Yes.
But I hate it.
I’ve had quite enough, thank you. To be tossed into circumstances beyond your control, it’s humiliating, really, even if the manner by which you arrive there is through your own choices. It’s terrible, I think. So I’m done.
Not that it matters. Being ‘done’ is the same as being ready. That is, here on the shore for example, there remains only eat, brush, wash. If I cease to relish these options, which I have, that makes no difference. The options remain. I can add only affectation. A sense of ire or antipathy, but not change.
Even something as dramatic as not washing, not eating, not brushing, fits into the broader scheme at hand. You leave one musical phrase and enter the next, but the song doesn’t end. I can be the irate woman, forlorn and cast off alone in my home. Of course I can. But I would not be the first, nor I’m sure the last. It just keeps going. Even silence is part of a song. Defying the choices set before me can only validate them further. If I do not eat, brush, or wash, what have I done. I have merely not eaten, brushed, or washed, an affirmation not of my defiance, but of my futility. The quiet that clarifies the notes’ succession. So, again, I hate it.
I offer all of this to you now, not as a complaint, but as a sort of context or backdrop for why I will fuck the giant.
I have long admired them from afar. From here on the river bank. The giants do not eat, brush, and wash. They are naked, wandering, lost. If they follow any pattern, the rhythm evades me. If their choices coalesce into chorus or song, the melody is unknown to me. I have never heard it, and certainly never performed it. Their lives represent a radical departure from my own. Observing them, I have concluded something: the answer for me is not to decide whether to eat/brush/wash or to not eat/brush/wash, but to choose something truly different. I have to discover another choice. Not merely “this vs not-this,” but that.
The giants are that. God knows they are not this.
But I cannot choose to be a giant. I understand. I know my limitations. My body is a simple machine. I am small and end abruptly where the rest of the world begins. Giants are enormous, complex, and thrust defiantly into the world, as if their bodies wished never to end, to devour the point where the world begins. Giants, simply by being so large, achieve this blurring between body and world in a way that I can never hope to replicate. I cannot defy limits with volume.
But I can fuck a giant. Of this I’m sure.
Let me give you a kind of example. I’ve been pregnant seven times now. Yet I have no children. They never came out. Don’t pity me. I’ve accepted it. It wasn’t meant to be. But I ask you: where are they? My children, where are they? If they never came out, they must still be inside. Yet my body has returned to its tiny shape. I am small again. If my children are still inside, each one of them, and I look the same, then there must be some kind of space in there, some enormous space, some place waiting to be filled. I’ve tried to fill it with more children, but I can’t do that on my own. Tommy stopped helping me years ago. He just looks at me and eats. I swear these are the only two things he can do. Look at me and eat.
But I have this space. And I believe I can fill it. With the penis of a giant.
The penis of a giant is amazing. We can see them from the shore sometimes. Typically, they are obscured by the mountains, but as the giants walk between peaks, you can catch glimpses of their enormous members swinging there. Like logs on long ropes. Like massive deer, shot and hung from a sled. They sway, and you can just about feel the weight of each oscillation. I can imagine one slamming into me, I can imagine holding it and riding it as it arcs first up and then back down and across. And I can imagine more, of course.
Those who have seen a giant up close (very few) say that their penises are different from that of a man. They say there are folds into which a person could slip, easily and finally, caverns into which a person might walk for days or weeks. That there are tiny appendages that reach out from its surface; some say hands, some say teeth, others say hundreds of tiny penises. There are a lot of stories, but few facts. I know the myths, the old tales. The giant’s penis that was cut from its body and thrown across the valley, the family that lived inside of it for generations; the man who sailed across the river of semen in search of his children and brought them home only to discover every part of his body was pregnant – his feet with little feet, his legs with little legs, his face with little faces; and the terrible voice with which a giant’s penis can speak, granting wishes or hurling curses. Yes, I’ve heard those things, but I’ve never heard of anyone fucking a giant.
I will be the first.
Dolan Morgan lives and writes in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He’s the author of That’s When the Knives Come Down (Aforementioned Productions, 2014) and edits at The Atlas Review. He’s a collaborator with Marina Abramovic Institute, and his work has appeared in The Believer, PANK, The Lifted Brow, Armchair/Shotgun, Field, The Collagist, and elsewhere.