effaces the markings from the cliff[17]. When he is done he stands, covered in the yellow dust of the cliff face, and looks a last time at the weeping old man at his feet[18]. He shakes his head slightly, out of pity or disgust, or simply bewilderment. He mounts his horse and rides away.

[17] Words in all their forms fail us as inevitably as our mortal flesh. Glyphs carved into pharaonic tombs fail to curse generations of graverobbers and wear away unvindicated. Handcopied manuscripts of apocryphal gospels survive the wormbitten centuries only to be decreed heretical and burned. Language as a living cultural construct shifts inexorably, abandoning words here and elevating words there.


[18] Truer to say that we, that I, and words are one and the same. In the beginning was the Word, and it was us/you/me. I am an ouroboros perpetually betraying myself. I am a lonely acolyte worshipping an absent god, perpetually, desperately and vainly trying to emulate its wondrous act of creation, but there is no performative utterance, there can be no speaking into being. I give myself over to the despair.




Brenton Woodward

is a writer, a layabout, and a ne'er-do-well, soon to be an MFA student. He has previously been published in Squawk Back. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.