Between the quilts and the silver, the glorious tablecloth covered with needle-work from her own hand with tiny flowers made of pin-prick blood, the wisp of a blanket used by nameless babies-- many who lived and so many who died, she kept the other things. Each was folded into two-dimensional origami so she could slip them into the creases and furrows.
And one thing she folded one-hundred and three times so it was long enough to link the ends of the universe.
She kept it all in her hope chest. Her father hadn’t carefully mitered it together and placed it at the foot of her bed. She fashioned it for herself out of cedar and wormwood so It could be both pure and bitter, so it could both repel and attract. She kept it in her body, this large wooden box. It made her angular and misshapen. Her body was unwieldy and had to be carefully maneuvered through doorways. But because it was inside, men could not notice, would not notice, and so it was safe.
She began to walk, barefooted, to grasp the ground with her toes, each drawing up the earth and clay for sustenance. She used her heart for seeing. She used her hands to put pressure on flooding wounds and her breasts to feed the children folded like desiccating grasshoppers in the dust. She became sticky with blood and milk. Her heart choked on violence and antipathy and her steps faltered as the earth tired of feeding her, deciding instead to burrow deep inside itself and sit alone in a single chair, elbows on knees, face in hands.
She stood in place, the weight of the box inside causing her to pitch and sway, so she grasped her handles and put herself down. She thought of the chest in her chest. Was it time? She thought of her travels. Yes. It was time --because it is always time.
She reached deep into her throat, opened the chest and pulled out the quilt from her mouth like magicians’ silk handkerchiefs. She unfolded the first fold and took out an origami drinking bird. She blew on it lightly and it shook out its paper wings and elongated its many paper necks. It tipped and began to drink. It was thirsty for ego and power and anger. If one tried to deny the bird, it drank them up too. When the bird was finished and as big as a mountain, she removed the tiny threadbare blanket the size of a file folder. Inside were infinite sheets of simple copy paper. She sent them out as shrouds for infants whose parents were refused quarter.
Next came the tablecloth and she unfolded it completely. But the origami tiger she had placed there was missing. She had intended it to eat starvation, but it was always hungry for flesh and like all big cats, impossible to tame. It must be out in the world. The guilt made her body clench down like a fist and for a moment she looked not like a person but only a skin covered chest. But she was a person, so she slowly expanded again to fill her place in the world.
Finally she removed the hope she had folded one-hundred and three times and let it expand naturally like a folded up straw paper. As she waited for it to breeze through everything like the gentlest of spring storms, she felt empty but weightless and stood up to feel the rain on her body.
By Carla Myers
From "Rewriting Narratives"