The following is an excerpt from a novel I'm working on. I need fresh eyes and honest opinions. Please post your comments, and please be as candid as possible. Thank-you.
The men hooked their fingers through the chest-bones' spokes, lifting skeletons bent as slow-footed lame cattle harangued by the wolf simply from scenting a mournful cud grind molting in the mouth. Lifted from sedge gone gristle, spread on the floorboards a cairn of acorns aborting their oak bowery as sole protector and provider of shade, the skeletons sounded their paradiddle as they swept and accrued in piles across the floor. Constant burnings whittled the sedge to but pebbles of ash or smears of smoke where under cloven-hooves, a mortar & pestle grinding; dreary little gores of enamel held awful over the burning hung in luminous covenants which had only known darkness when the feet and song fell. Blooming a reticent stigmata wreak, the men piled tiny breast-bones on top of coccyges.
What sun there was in this greasy world, donning garlands of bleached bones, scraped it's lowering against the window's tidal solemnity. It's chiseling descent sounding was taken out of the air by the awful mandible formed from an amalgam of shoed feet picking through ash for whole skeletons whose skulls were rounded to a dull flint-tip as if yanked by the child's first stray reaching out of amnion.
Pianissimo, passed between ash & bones - a libretto; espirando, went the sun's chorale.
The men knotted their steps; the eye offering narrow flame.
It was said the villagers put out their sill-set candles as the moon tinkered out of Earth's dark lid; it's luminescent body drug along maples, lashed, as a smoke-stack naked in winter's emaciation. Kindled against such a gill, the moon sluiced Her body into long pendulums that swung over river and Earth, a suet, a brake-light for the excavators to cease their rummaging through soot for vision of breath already swept up in the languish.
Palimpsests of smoke and light were with the men as the skeletons blossomed in the din's clamoring, piling three-high in five solitary aisles. The men mistook kindling as effulgence and carried on.
"Folks won't keep from sticking their noses against our eyes to see what we've seen in here." One voice said to the other.
Disembodied antistrophe went: "Nothing we can do about anyone wanting answers: you'll have that."
"It's the answers we give them I have to be concerned with, damn it. You don't think one of these Mandeville's ain't gonna pick through our bullshit like Hospital does with them chickens? Come on now; stories carried out of ignorance only foul up what we're trying to maintain here. It's times like these I wish I were blind."
"Well, if you worried about what's already bein' brewed up to be said about this, then give ‘em contaminated answers: get back a bit of distillation. That's how you tod this."
The man coughed as if breathing a flume of bone-smoke from a pyre. Covering his spittle with a forearm after two hacks, he smeared one last hack on his wrist, wiping it off on his trousers' thigh:
"If we start out with skewed versions, anything we get back can't be too outlandish you see. You start out contaminated, somewhere along the path the tale will cleanse itself. Mrs. Xertan kept hearin' that wicked howling over at the river's sycamores, kept insisting it was an abandoned child or wretch of the devil and what was it we found? A damn coyote nipping at the river, poking at it's own sharp reflection in the river there. Watched the damn thing do it five nights straight. Well, you couldn't make anyone who heard that cryin' believe it was a real true animal made of God's dark dirt; started saying it was some genus of devils who swiped kids acting like miscreants: but it was a coyote.
"And when Trudie's marigolds started coming up mornings with no heads on ‘em, she proclaimed it was a curse put on her by Mildred who wanted no part of her competition at the Bazaar Days and not the damn rabbit we spent all night stakin' out for. We supposed to be the law around here and what we end up doin? Lyin' on our bellies like sows for coyotes and rabbits: pretty soon the jailhouse can be a god-damned zoo! So let's give these folks what they want: tell ‘em we got some Salem copycats on our hands and instead of witchery sacrifices, the tale comes back that we cleared out an old whiskey barrel full of field-mice skeletons that Sampson just didn't get around to collecting. It's bound to diffuse once enough people are tired of validating things no one's even got the capacity to understand. You can't fit Mrs. Xertan's chicken-coup ass into Genevieve Coulter's corset now can you? My God you'll have to take out Xertan's whole rib-cage and siphon off some o'her breath so she can squeeze that silo in. That's a fact! But you take something like this here, what we're seein' and stackin', and give ‘em bullshit: Christ, these folks will commiserate like witches themselves and extract whole diabolical hypotheses if we mask anything here."
The man paused again to wipe sweat off his brow. He looked about the room searching for a moon no sky could offer this Sabbath. He took his eyes again inward, addressing each townsperson collectively aloud:
"They're water I say - there're folks here that are just water. The Mahoning ain't no river til you see the bed of it first: river ain't got no shape, got no bones, got nothing that can make it walk on it's own or breathe on it's own. The shape of water only happens when you relegate it to a cup, pour it down your throat or damp a washcloth with it: that simple. We have to give these folks what we seen here tonight, give them their beds to lie on, because anything else and they won't know what to do with it; we'll have the end of days on our souls if we make these folks dress themselves sleuth-seekers on this own. And we ain't even lying about what we seen here! It's contamination only because it's the truth and to these fools, that's all truth is: contaminant. I hope to Heaven too my eyes go blind rather than see anything which parodies this ever again."
Knowing the hand at wrist's end was there even in darkness, one man bent and reached again for the grate, a chest bone, and hooked his finger-tips underneath the ribs. Feeling with his other hand the floorboards glazed with dust, he took this last orphan to it's infernal brood.
"This the last of ‘em. It's boiling in this damn mill."
"They're water: pour them into this glass and they'll take the shape."
Full in the sky went the veil stretched a membrane o'er the villagers zoetrope-twitter-canary-amnesiatic-hubble; flourishing brides of sulfur stink lilted sleep across threshold. The men waited for the penstock as it swept up great heaps of Mahoning, flinging javelins of river turning the wheel, whooping her axle a bareback-bucking swoon that reared and snorted and heaved the millstones a'turning, a'grinding. The skeletons streaked with plumes of charred muscle still jiggling with pyres of chanting. Mace head & rynd drove the running wheel; it's split-timbered elbow creaking, pestling the skeletons a'dust; it's furrows and land kept by no congress of mind or senatorial promenade but by the pure Promethean suffering one allows to drive the turbine: that there are Diogeneses amongst the Lears who sleep in basins & the absconded fire for mead halls is but a kindling when the kyophysis' heart is allowed to forge the torch.
One man went amongst the pulverizing, opening the sluice gates with a metal hand-crank. The excess river emptying back into itself, where the orphan and parent wept upon reconciliation, bore a feral, awful magnanimity; a striking pose Goya would have exposed in burnt umber & jackals mimicking the salient coitus twine Cinesias mounted Myrrhine with, and plunged again, the cock-eye, for deeper bedrock.
Once recognizing the surf as it's own, the river acquiesced & a momentary divergence reassumed it's primordial dress: fetus in fetu.
The men gathered the grains up and began with oystering the silt in a pair of tarpaulins. The pulverized skeletons were then lowered out of a window, facing scraggly limbs across the purple-veined sky. The men dug a pit out between the windows & limbs and lowered further were the bones, covered with the loose earth made parted for their laying.**********