There are two factories on separate hills.
The hills enclose a little village.
The people live in tall grass. They live in huts made of grass.
Their children play in the grass.
The grass waves and the factories watch it.
Factory representatives drift through the grass—our product is
very good, very very good.
Some children are drawn in like crickets.
The company executives take the children in their arms and fill
their mouths with grass. This is how the parents see them.
They offer their blessing, as company executives are their source
of bread and butter.
Some children become addicted and disappear into the grass.
Once a year, near Christmas, parents are retired and children
Some mothers hide children, as if they weren’t born.
The old wander the grass. They hunch as if their backs were
The old lie low and tempt the children.
Children, among their many missions at war, bump into the
Read a goddamn book! they say before perishing.
The old are thin like paper. In a fire, they raise into the sky.
Books are not made of grass.
The people attempted to block out the factories with chimney
smoke. The factories took their wood away. Representatives
knocked on every door, came in, stamped out each fire in big
black boots. Light is illegal.
The factories began making ash.
Ash cacked from the smoke. Ash cacked from the chimneys.
Ash cacked from the babies who, clutched by their fathers,
could not blink anymore.
Finally, now that the sky was ash and the ash was sky, the people
Company executives could not peer through the ash as they
could through the grass.
The families, in their privacy, forked their plates full of grass.
Ash, ash. It tasted of ash!
Bob Selcrosse grew up with his mother, selling books, in the Pacific Northwest. He is now working on a book about a book. It is based in the Pacific Northwest. The book is The Cabinet of Children.