from Chouette

a novel by claire oshetsky

"My mother didn’t answer. She gestured mutely toward her feet. Is it true that her long toes were burying themselves in the ground, so deeply that she could no longer take a step? Do I honestly remember seeing her two feet rooting themselves to the spot? Did her skin really become hard and rough all over, like a tree? Were there really spring-green leaves spilling forth from her fingertips? Or has my adult mind painted the memory of this night in such unlikely colors, as a way to assuage my guilt for leaving her? I could hear men shouting and dogs barking, coming closer. Ahead I could see the tangled thicket. The wind in the trees sounded like the voices of women singing in chorus, and their voices were filled with glottal embellishments, as if sung by throats made of wood. The music urged me forward. And so I left my mother, and went on without her. I wasn’t afraid, because the trees took care of me, and they brooded and bent over me, and sang to me their melancholy songs, and fed me, and gave me succor, until the Bird of the Wood found me and took me home with her and taught me to trust to the sound of my own voice."

 

From Chouette by Claire Oshetsky

 

Virago: November 4, 2021

Ecco: November 16, 2021