kitab al-a'rad: the sewage priest

There was a Reverend Emersohn who lived in the sewers and preached a selfwritten Gospel through the pipes into sinks and bathtubs all through the night. The priest knew of the revitalization technicians, and considered it his mission to assist and comfort those whose memories had been corrupted, and so built a halfway house in the steam tunnels stocked from materials stolen from the upstairs hotel. The sewer was a mail system, and he would deliver messages via small rafts piloted by children and surrogates, so that he was one of the regular contacts for the Kara-Bakos Travelling Library, though he was only allowed access to certain books as he had an irritating habit of adding footnotes in a cribbed scribble at the edges of the pages. We went looking for her in those tunnels, guided by Nella, blessed to follow. The sixty hertz pulse beneath makes the sound all splintered, flanged. Crosses on their palms, fresh-filled holes inside wiring closets, god's eyes hanging from nests of wires. Trace hand over hand and into places with bloodshot memories, making its way to the fence, calling out the seven-beast, seals and mastery of redesigned farm equipment. The boats kept on all day and the smell won’t get out of my clothes. Home sadism films down the obscure trail into the maw of children’s teeth, where the wicked are ground into thick paste until the day of arising. Supreme happiness aria as scored by the missing finger ensemble. Thick with luminous mushrooms who swallowed bird-eggs and kites, spitting them back out through the roots as beaked worms with cottontails all ribboned and smeared with mud and the prayers of worshipful young women in Rusty Wallace t-shirts who are convinced the bird-insects will one day gain control of their wings and fly the pen-scrawled prayers bound to their tails up to the surface, wormeaten stories of prison-held boyfriends and mothers with unpronounceable diseases, all the way up to heaven.

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