The Way the Ruin Came

Moths and blackbirds formed the front yard. The trees uprooted, clogged with ropes of smoke. Mother was out there somewhere. We’d been waiting for forever. I’d bit the inside of my lip so hard the blood warmed the short shaft of my throat. My stomach eating my other parts. No more food in cans. The faucet cragged so fat with insects the water wouldn’t even drip. Something moving on the roof. In the air vents, some kind of shouting, perhaps from children trying to crawl their way in. We’d pried the nails out of the sofa to seal the windows. We’d wrapped each other’s heads in veils. Father hung still from the ceiling. The rot covered the alcohol on his breath. He’d missed the dirt come down like raining. He’d missed the worms spurting from our ears. The ruin was inside us also. Scars all up my forearms. Larvae in my hair. My teeth ached. And deeper, in my organs, something else I couldn’t put a name to. Other eyes behind my eyes. Something watching me. Something everywhere. The house groaned from the weight. Mother was coming back still, I could feel it. I’d wait for her before I bit my skin again. I’d wait to see if she found food. If not, I’d make her listen. I’d kiss the blood into her mouth. We’d wait longer. The sores would cease, or they would not. The house would one day bend.

Blake Butler lives in Atlanta. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Caketrain, The Rambler, 3 AM, Copper Nickel, etc., and can be found at his website He blogs at