The Corn

The corn bled for a long time. Doctors came. Then priests. The blood never seeped through green. People knew it was bleeding. They swore they wouldn’t eat it. Buzzards circled clockwise, counting down to the last second, eager to beat rot. At the vigils, people held cornflowers on their tongues and prayed to gods who hadn’t heard a prayer since the last human sacrifice. The more it bled, the taller the stalks grew. There would be no way to harvest it. It would transcend rain. It would scorch. It had to be saved. Ears started falling, slowly at first, then in bushels. It was self-harvesting, they said. There were injuries and more than one death. A distraught father tore at husks until his field was covered in them. Finally, he found a handful of kernels like costume beads broken from a child’s necklace. Breaking laws, he planted some of them. He held another in his mouth, passing it from tooth to tooth. He dropped the others one at a time into a river. They swelled with river until the whole river was inside of them. When the man spoke, he sounded like an almanac. The kernels sprouted upside down, and the earth turned inside out.

Jordan Sanderson’s work has recently appeared in burntdistrict, The Fiddleback, Better: A Journal of Culture and Lit, Thunderclap, and other journals. Jordan earned a PhD from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. He currently lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he teaches English.