If you’re looking for honey don’t search the trees, the bees’ve been dead for centuries and the trees are thick with ghosts.
I couldn’t tell you why ghosts gather at the trees, or how someone who’s never tasted honey in their life can feel a longing for it deep in the gullies of their mouth. But avoid trees like the liver-colored funk curdled on dry river beds, like the blue-lighted fortresses of city gangs, like the odd tearings and pulsings of your own heart that probably mean radiation but might mean something else.
Walk quickly and talk to yourself so you won’t get too lonely. Carry a gun and avoid anyone whose gun you can’t see because that means something worse. Slap mud over your cuts. Whistle not too loud. Sleep facing down, so that when you awake in the middle of the night you will not be confronted with the vast one-or-two-starred sky (skies at night make you almost remember your father’s face, you see). All those hours spent facedown will make your breasts ache like all creation, but what is the alternative?
Start each morning by counting your fingers and toes; you’d be surprised how easy it is to lose them and, not knowing, leave a few behind. When the air begins to crackle with frost don’t be afraid to laugh out loud— laugh at the sky, laugh at the cold, spin and spin until you are dizzy.
But even if you slip up and press your lips to sweet-looking puddles, even if you unwisely try to barter with a man who leaves you bloody-mouthed and stunned, do not go near the trees. Because as soon as your fingers meet that gray ancient skin the blood in your veins will become the blood of someone dead, the white pebbles scattered at your toes will begin to look like babies’ teeth and the air’ll turn something bitter. The needley tips of branches will twist into your hair and grab bits of you away, and soon enough ghost-babies’ fingers will be creeping up your thighs, calling you mother.
Keep walking towards the place you’re told the ocean is, not because anything waits for you there but because the ocean is something to see. Above all, make elaborate detours around any trees, holding their distant shadows just within your sight.
There is no honey in there anyways.
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