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  • The Islands
  • Anna Carson Dewitt (bio)

When they performed the scan on our father’s kidney, they were surprised to find that it had flooded and become a terrarium. The branched nephrons reversed themselves like trees turned upside down in a river. Where before they funneled liquid out, now they drank it up into a fecund world of saline, small sponged islands and fantastic plants.

On these islands lived a family of tiny trolls: a father, a mother, and four daughters. Every day they rebuilt their home on whatever bit of dry land they could find. They did not hunt or farm. Their nourishment flowed in the waters.

On the islands of our father’s kidney grew micron things: Ruffled grey shrubs. Pink fingered cilia weeds waving to a current breeze. Because the daughters did not eat these plants, they instead played a game. They would pretend that they were the plants. They would pretend that the plants were their sisters.

Come to lunch, they would say to the indigo felt of seaweed and the oldest would revolve her arms. Watch out for the baby said another, and the youngest became a coral octopus tree, pink plant’s flesh opening and closing at a central mouth.

In the dark liquid world of my father’s kidney, the whole family could breathe water, if they needed to. They could see and then become [End Page 140] a school of rays, blue flaps of muscle, and when their darted tails touched sparks were made. These sparks echoed off the ultrasonagrapher’s wand, and formed a picture, vague, the way the depths of the ocean look like the moon. This was the way we found out what was happening. The lush water world and shifting land inside of him.

Our father was driving us home. Dark was parting like a veil of liquid, the forest opened all around. A deer crept out like a bone incised from the shoulder of the evergreens. Wait, said our father. The car stopped and lit silver the tract of road. The mounds of clay. The secret moon flowers. We saw the pines and were the pines. More deer arrived, floating brittle and kind from the forest. See? said our father. If one comes, there will be another. [End Page 141]

Anna Carson Dewitt

Anna Carson DeWitt teaches and writes in Durham, North Carolina.



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pp. 140-141
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