When they were children, she and her sisters buried their baby teeth in the garden behind their house. Her youngest sister believed the flowers that grew over them—all pink and drooping like pouting mouths—burst straight from the enamel. Roots spread out through the pulpy gums of the earth. She told her youngest sister, Probably Mother plants them. Or Grandfather. But Little Sister’s fantasy persisted. Despite her skepticism, she did not stop burying them. If she could repurpose herself, this is what she would want to be: a garden of incisors. Ten little fingerbones spinning cocoons. A network of veins bursting through soil.
She dreams she can climb the ladder of her spine into another world. She covers the entire surface of her body with straight pins, their heads so large that the people on earth mistake them for planets. Our galaxy is so tall, they crane their necks and say. They escape the world by means of her body, pin by pin.
If she were a giant, even her death could allow people to reach heaven. While she decays and trees twist themselves through her remains, even as she is bolted to the earth, the small feet of everyone she’s ever known might angle up her processes and toward the clouds. They would camp at the base inside her ribcage before their ascent. They would throw fabulous embroidered scarves over the curve of her, make her into a tent of every color. Her sisters would fill her heart with oil, and it would glow like a lantern, warm them through the winter until the ice outside thawed and they could start up up up.
Goodbye to the feet, they would say. Goodbye to the legs that carried us. Goodbye to the hungry stomach, to the hungry heart. Goodbye teeth, goodbye tongue. And by the time they reach the part in her hair they would have traveled for so long that they would not remember the heavy things that held them down. They would be so far from the world that they would be free from it, and they would float out of the atmosphere and into infinity.
Samson fought the Philistines with the jawbone of a mule. Maui lengthened days by beating the sun with the jaw of his ancestor. Some cultures have used jawbones to make music, rattling the teeth. Some struck harps or lyres with the jawbones of goats. If the jaw of Orpheus had not been buried, but rather used to play his lyre, would that not have been perfect?
Cole Bucciaglia‘s work can be found or is forthcoming in publications such as West Branch, Bartleby Snopes, Timber Journal, PodCastle, Weave Magazine, Gingerbread House, and Extract(s). She is the editor-in-chief of Psychopomp Magazine and a former assistant editor of the Crab Orchard Review.