I’m deeply inspired by the dark surrealist photography of Christopher McKenney. His work is ethereal, haunting, and filled with dread and the onset of violence. When I was writing “The Returned,” I asked myself what the creatures and specters in his photographs were saying, and as I expected, each one had a terrifying tale to tell, each one more horrifying than the last.
A walking erasure, I return to earth
hungry, a devourer: the musk of moss
and jasmine a repressed memory,
these horns my bloodborne right.
I am blind but thirsty, these forests
a drought, the taste of aged bark
scratching on my tongue, a stray
dog, the laughing hyena, I walk
on the whispers of lost girls, follow
the footsteps of the stolen, the taken,
You stand there, quiet, still, the beating
of your heart a hummingbird’s,
a rabbit’s. I don’t breathe, but my teeth
sharpen, the sound of your sweat
a beating drum, it pounds into the
dirt like spilled milk, like rotted fruit,
every dial tone cut off, you are made
of wanted posters, fueled by nights
of sleepless mothers.
I drape a red cloth around my shoulders,
not in mourning but in violence: these
echoes of screams, those imprints of
burials six feet and climbing, the scent
of soured urine covers your feet,
your face an avalanche of tears,
Hush now my pet, I lick the fear
from your eyes, bleeding and bloodied,
a child of men, of monsters, you are meat,
a sack of bone meal for my roses
and I have starved centuries for you,
waiting in fog, in closets, your rage
an invitation to this night, this moon:
Now bow your head and say
grace: the Devil is here.
Spread the word!