Noise. My spit tastes funny. I hear people talking to each other. One’s big and old, from the sound of him, and the other’s little. The little one is saying “Yes,” and then something I can’t hear, and then something about water. There’s only a little light coming through my eyelids now, and that’s good.
Flowers – I smell a lot of flowers, as if it’s not autumn now, but spring. I open my eyes and see a hut. One ox skin that the hut is made of is now lifted up, and someone comes out bent over, their hair long and bright with a strip of fur around it, and wrapped in skins to their knees. It’s a girl by the look of her – no bigger than me. I sniff to smell her vagina, and I smell nothing, only flowers, but I don’t see any flowers – I just see the girl. I don’t know whether she’s a flower that looks like a girl, or a girl that smells like a flower.
In between her hands she holds a little shape that’s all grey. She walks away from the hut and away from me, down off the dirt rise and toward the river. She walks between the reeds but doesn’t get sucked down, as if she walks a path where the ground is dry. Now she’s far away, so that I can’t see her above the grass, and the smell of flowers isn’t as strong now.
Now there’s something moving by the hut, which I look back to. The white skin lifts up, and someone big comes out bent over, naked except for a belt and a fancy fur loincloth. It’s a man. It’s a frightening man.
He stands to look around here, but he doesn’t look at me. He’s the oldest man I’ve ever seen – his long hair and beard are white and oh, his face! His face is marked with charcoal – nothing except his eyes are white. A band is around his head, up from which come antlers. He has flowers in one hand and sticks in the other. Now he looks around some more, and farts, and sits down in front of his white skin hut.
I can’t see what he’s doing, except that he moves his hands quickly and spends a while doing it. Smoke. I smell smoke. He’s making a fire, and now he’s putting more sticks on it to make it bigger. He picks up little stones that sit nearby and puts them on top of each other around the fire to make a fire pit.
He sits with his back against the hut and picks up something made of wood and stone, not any longer than my hand, that’s all flat and sharp. This hand-axe he puts to another nearby stone and scratches it back and forth, as if to sharpen it. Now I lie back and hear the noise of this; the sun is getting lower in the sky.
In with the smell of smoke I can now smell flowers, and I lift my head to look toward the river. The girl is coming back here over the reed-covered rise; the skins she’s wrapped in move all around her knees. Between her hands there’s still a little grey shape, and as she walks I see where a little bit of liquid comes out and falls on her arm. I think she’s holding a thing like a little valley that she filled up with water in the river. Slowly, she walks up the dirt rise, where the antler-headed man takes her water to set it above the fire pit.
The girl sits by the fire now, on her knees, and doesn’t move. The sun’s getting lower, and as the daylight fades, the fire becomes brighter, and the girl’s grey shadow is long on the hut behind her. Even longer is the shadow of the antler-headed man, all black, with the antlers moving like many worms upon his head. He picks up the flowers and casts them into the water above the fire, from which grey steam rises.
In the brightness of the fire I now see a low wall made of dirt that stands in back of the hut. I haven’t seen this before. Maybe it’s a pen for an animal, like the bigger building up on the hill – but I can only see a little of it, and I don’t know. The fire rises up high. Black shadows move back and forth across the ox skin.
A white substance that’s thick and soft like snow rises up from the bowl above the fire pit, and across its edge, where the all the white stuff runs down and hisses in the fire. The antler-headed man wraps a small fur around his hands so he doesn’t burn them. He picks up the bowl from above the fire pit and sets it by his side.
He takes a little whiteness out from the bowl – two handfuls. The girl sits by him on her knees and doesn’t move. The sky becomes dark. Black shadows move on the hut. Now the antler-headed man puts the white on the face of the girl, but she doesn’t move, and the white is thick below her eyes, and thick on her mouth. In little bits it falls down on the skins wrapped around her breasts.
The girl doesn’t move. The black-faced man now puts his hands all about himself in the dark, as if he’s trying to find something, and now a big warm grey feeling comes over me, and I shut my eyes. I smell smoke. I smell flowers, and I hear more of a scratching noise, as if it’s scratching forward, and back, and forward.