“Saving Earthworms in My Mountain Cave” – Lyric Essay by j/j hastain

Worm - Kiki Smith, 1992
Worm – Kiki Smith, 1992

Our Spring 2015 issue features four bite-sized lyric essays from j/j hastain‘s forthcoming memoir, including today’s featured piece, “Saving Earthworms in My Mountain Cave.” 

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EVERY MORNING AFTER IT RAINED I WOULD OPEN THE RED DOOR, squat (with nearly no clothes on, my body a fleshy thing against the green mountain scape) and pick up each earthworm one at a time. I would move earthworms from the pathway or the street into the lush patches of grass near the river of my property. As I picked up each soft, squirming body and the body positioned itself like the letter upsilon (shaped like a “u”) it reminded me of the lingual bone. It was because of that reminder that I began to hum to them, moving my mouth in different shapes while I was transporting them. I also tried not to make them experience too much shock at transition.

Ribbons are what I follow when I sing: verdant ribbons heading toward gentle brows, browns. For this reason these Lumbricus Terrestris were personal for me: totem animals, spirit animals.

When I was at the local independent movie theater (where, prior to the movie playing they show local short films in place of commercials) I was awed when, for nearly three entire minutes, I watched what seemed to be an enormous hybrid earthworm (part metal, part sepia-flesh) up close as it peristalted not in a straight line, but in a round and curving shape. There was music that accompanied the movement, but it felt, as an image, as a moment, to be the exact thing that I was feeling when I was transporting the worms.

To get to indigenous relief and natural identity, animal press is required. Animal press is what makes that pulp of the path appear.

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Bio Next2j/j hastain is a collaborator, writer and maker of things. j/j performs ceremonial gore. Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j simply hopes to make the god/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning seasons of the moon.

j/j hastain is the inventor of The Mystical Sentence Projects and is author of several cross-genre books including the trans-genre book libertine monk (Scrambler Press), The Non-Novels (forthcoming, Spuyten Duyvil) and The Xyr Trilogy: a Metaphysical Romance of Experimental Realisms. j/j’s writing has most recently appeared in CaketrainTrickhouse, The Collagist, Housefire, Bombay Gin ,Aufgabe, and Tarpaulin Sky.

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