"The Seven Songs of Creation" - Jim Papworth


While He slept, Mother whispered songs and sounds into his ear, all night long, and so it was that the whale opened its mouth undersea and sang and whistled and trilled, its body like a giant cello humming through the ocean, Mother’s hand drawing a bowstring across its ribs. And Father said, this is good.


During the night, She rubbed her legs and feet against His for hours, and elephant erupted in foghorn screams and the females sang a song so low it could not be heard, an infrasound moving through the leg bones of amorous males, the pads of their feet; the males moved towards the booming for love and longevity, some of them standing tip-toed to hear her miles away. And Father said, this is good.


Mother’s voice rose high into the firmament the third night as she pitched her soprano song against the clouds, the moon’s bright back, stars. The sounds bounced back and forth through the sky, like bird notes. Before sunrise, bats opened their mouths and echoed each other in the high pitchings of love, a sound so spiked Father had trouble hearing. He said, this is good. I think.


As they slept, She was exhausted, her breath rising and falling in harmony with His, their night sounds philharmonic, joining and climbing in something like ecstasy. That day God made mosquitoes, male and female, and blessed them, and She taught them to whine, the males high pitched and frenetic, the females at ease, waiting, patient, their wing-beats adjusting in harmony, Father shooing them away with the wind of his hand, thinking perhaps, this wasn’t so good.


She rested her head and hand on His chest and felt the commotion of his heart, His work almost finished, animals running away from His outstretched hand pounding the ground with their hard feet, the grouse thumping the air with its love song, giraffes running miles against the earth’s trails without rest, ant feet, horse hooves, antelope, all of them running against the earth into their kingdoms. The next day He created woodpeckers without song, thick-beaked, strong necked, thick skulled; and Mother gave them rhythm and blues, hollow notes, love of the drill and the knock of wood. And God said, yes, this will be okay.


During the night as she sang to Father, Her arm fell asleep under her head, the numbness calling to Her through the night, fingers rising and falling, thumb outstretched, her blood slowing to a soft warble through her veins. In the morning God created manakins, their red hoods the color of blood, wings of strange feathers and solid bones, scrapers and combs, nervous twitchings and vibrations. She blew into their mouths string notes, rattling their wings faster than sound, tingling, twitching. They raise their wings like small flags and call out, “I’m here. I’m here.” And Father said, of course, this is as it should be. But He was tired and wanted rest.

During the night, Mother dreamed of Adam and Eve. The serpent in Eden. Eve’s apple. The animals fanning out towards desert, forests, mountains, valleys; she saw them opening their mouths, their voices rising from colored throats, some playing their bodies like instruments, notes rising from the oceans and streams. Today when Her man said, this is finished and it’s good, she felt defeated, numb, hoarse from giving voice to all creatures, all of them. During the day she lay down and slept, and dreamed, and watched ants and bugs crawl off and fish swim away in their muted bodies.

—after Rachael Monosson and Sierra

Third Place.

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