World Aflame

Yarrow Paisley

There is a tender mother in the corn beset by hungry babies whom all she forgives and gathers closer into her exposed surfeiting womb so they may sate themselves, but naive lady she does not understand they cannot be satisfied, their hunger only grows with fullness. There is a farmer watching from ten feet who dares not to intercede on her behalf, fearing the babies will ravage him in his mercy. There is a sunbeam obliquely angled to this scene striking a stalk's tip and the corn is in ecstasy. Far out in the field a critter sniffs an empty husk, its absconded contents a mystery to the critter's dismay. In the earth a worm plows according to its task. It calmly ignores annelid mass festivals-cum-orgies in favor of its lonesome but fulfilling dirt rituals. The farmer licks his lips as he watches his daughter's immolation. He is somewhat aroused. The worm is writhing beneath the ground. The babies have sharpened teeth, which allow them to tear meat most efficiently. The critter is shivering, has lost its sense of food. It has wrapped itself inside the husk. Its expressionless eyes peek out in terror. The worm is spinning on its axis. The worm is in joy. The corn is swaying in a breeze which cools the farmer's perspired brow. The tender mother is all but eaten now. The farmer has dropped to his knees, and there is a pain in his throat. The worm is curling, the worm is straight. The worm is plowing at an oblique angle to the critter. The farmer's tongue has swiped his lips in an effort to quell a quiver which has seized his throat. He cannot quell, his throat is wheeling. The worm has broken through the surface, a sunbeam has struck against its very tip, the critter has gone still with hope. The farmer's hands brace his throat's wheeling—O for to hold it still! The babies have noticed him. His voice is rising in a wheeling bird throng. The critter's eyes are shut, having seen the worm. There is hope in its dying brain. The farmer is beset by babies. His throat keeps wheeling. The worm's tip touches the critter's husk—shelter. There is a sunbeam obliquely angled to this scene. There is a sunbeam parallel to this sunbeam. There is a sun perpendicular to both. There are three carcasses in the corn—and a worm—and countless babies.

Yarrow Paisley lives in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. His writing has appeared in Twelve Stories, The Other Room, Gone Lawn, and Kerouac's Dog Magazine, among others. Yarrow's previous story in Abjective was "long-listed" by Wigleaf (much to his astonishment and honor). He is a member of the Step Chamber, an ongoing collaborative writing experiment. His website is