Drizzling pine around the basinous forest lake, around stones and dead trunks I walked. There was a dirt mound on the far side bank. What could that be? A mermaid came from underwater when I approached. “This is my nest,” she said. I was surprised but we had a talk, she was a freshwater mermaid. “We mermaids are very susceptible to eagle attacks. They carry us into the sky!” she said. Really? Eagles? “It’s true,” she said. Her hair fell over her breasts however she moved, like magic.

When I came back later the nest was smashed up and she was gone. Could it have been an eagle? I looked down at the nest awhile, hands in my pockets.

Still Eating Oranges

He arrived at midday and the birds were calling from the trees, the fish were splashing in the creek—the woods path inviting with sun and a “Welcome!” signpost. Her home was there. They had a great love, soon to be married, they talked in the garden. She said, “We mustn’t meet again before the wedding.” He said, “I can’t wait so long.” And he couldn’t.

He arrived at midnight with stealth and—in the moonsilhouetted dark creaking, a birdheaded man screaming and climbing in the tree, something thrashing in the creek, plants seemed to reach out. The signpost had hair. He ran to her door and she opened: she was a glowing badger spirit. “I must leave now that you know the truth,” she said. And she did.

Still Eating Oranges

The tangerine waitstaff loped table to booth table to booth, customers crowded practically swinging from the rafters. Mr. Turtle and Ms. Marjoram offered compliments to the chef: their food was splendous. Mr. Dog wasn’t pleased with his meal. The waitstaff led him through, over, under twisting dining pathways to the kitchen to lodge complaint.

Back there in the greasy dinge steam chugged from appliances, boiling pots were stacked teetering to the ceiling and fogged figures of cooks scampered, fell with edibles. Only the head cook was clear with his gargantuan hands it was hard to work, he waved to direct cooks but nearly toppled various things, it was difficult. It was very difficult to work.

Still Eating Oranges

A fillet of cod, formaldehyde, dry paraffin and the frizzling spark of LIFE! “My ichthyoidic friend, be born!” A filthy light emanated from the alchemist’s melting pot. A rumbling jittered dust and books and a sandwich loose and sent them floorward to the limestone. In the pot flopped the impossible: a fish complete and alive. “Why do I live?” asked the fish as dawn peeked through an arrowslit. “I desire a companion in adventure,” said the alchemist.

The fish stared. “When my mustache is grown, I will go.” The alchemist raised his hands in exasperation—a mustache?! Already hairs had begun to appear, but a full mustache would take weeks to grow. He would have to wait. The alchemist set himself to righting the fallen books and scrolls and potions and food to the shelves.

Still Eating Oranges

Who keeps leaving sharp objects in the street at the corner of Vine and Fifth? Gray William.

Lives in a blanket, dances on bonethin legs. Gray William breaks into, homes to, break vases, into pieces, who knows it? The bloated hatted thing from the corner of an eye. Known by its disease. Calls to the children, c’mon kids, they slunch off into the night. Bridget thought for sure she saw something over there.

Still Eating Oranges