Table Thirty-Seven: Joseph Suglia

You are riding an elephant, a tough, grey mammoth. Every time the elephant lifts a mighty foot and sinks it into the moist street, your entire body jolts. Swaying beneath your legs, the shifting grey immensity rocks you upward and downward, to the left and to the right, like a helpless straw doll. You are heaving, your head nearly colliding with the jagged ceiling of branches. The behemoth is heaving its back, raising and plunging back down again its massive pillar-like legs, jostling you around, thrusting its tusks into the curtain of green before you. The elephant lashes its trunk like a whip, slashing the grass and the branches, and you make your way unsmoothly to the Richard J. Daley Plaza.

The elephant pitches its weight inelegantly beneath you.

The city is losing its quiddity, its distinctiveness. It is not as it once was, and is shifting into an entirely new zone of existence. The city is no longer a metaphorical jungle, but a real throbbing jungle, replete with bird, plant, and non-human mammal life.

You look at the tufts of grass that are still growing and growing high and wonder if there will be a single space on Earth that won’t soon be greened or milked over. This is the greening, the becoming-vegetative of civilization. What awaits humankind is not the aridity of nuclear desolation but the overgrowth of vegetable congestion.

Tall buildings have vanished from the skyline and have been replaced by temples, palaces, and castles festooned with green vines. You begin to forget that the old world ever even existed to begin with, the human world, the world in which you were born, nurtured, and formed. You are formless now and must begin to think of yourself as a resident of a green world that was not of your own choosing. Then again, no world is of one’s own choosing. Even the human world into which you were born, the world in which you were nurtured and formed, was not one of your own choosing. But the green world is even more alien to you than the human world was. In the green world, humankind is at the periphery.

It does seem, at this stage, that human possibilities have been severely narrowed.

Nor is there even any unity between one human being and another.

There was a time when it was possible to believe that human beings all belonged to the same brotherhood and sisterhood, as if an invisible yet tenacious bond strung them together.

It is difficult to believe such things anymore.

You blink, but the world refuses to disappear.

Thorny, multi-spiked balls of fruit are hailing from the trees as they blossom upward. These are durian trees. The elephants are swallowing the durian fruit, spiky husks and all, sucking them into their vulval mouths. The elephant-expelled wads of durian fruit will fertilize the new earth with aphrodisiacal wonderment.

The flourishing bushes are multiplying over the ragged tar. Fronds are blanketing the Walgreens.

A whorl of vines close, snagging the elephant’s feet. The elephant shakes off the vines easily.

The city is losing electrical power, and the night sky is as black as black silk.

A tribe of humans gathers beneath a high-rise. They are grilling vegetables on open-air grills.

Their saturnine picnic is attended by fireflies that glisten like holes in the night.

As the tigers hunker down in their silicone lairs, the humans are unsleeping and watching.

Nervous crows, anxious crows, plop on the telephone wires, awaiting the starvation of humanity.

A sheep’s elegant bounding, its vigorous gait across the nighttime space, entrances you. The sheep is eloping from the tiger’s hideous mouth.

The pigs serenade the moon—listen to their song.

The clouds darken, spreading a darkness that heralds rainfall.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia


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