The Third Cycle / by Aaron Calvin

There are balled up black socks piled up against the door. That closed up winter smell, sweat. I was in a bodega buying ice cream while a boy smoking a cigarette on a bicycle slowly edged out of the frame. Arrhythmic and tinny, the beating of a small hammer against the pipes. The litter box needs to be cleaned, but your gums are dragging. The sound of the church bell begins above and spreads down and out and covers everything. 


Speak to me of conspiracy theories over the phone. I don’t mind. The truth hovers off to the left, un-get-at-able anyway. More factors that go into distance than time and space. More forged than created, practiced and kneaded out. There is a trance to enter in speaking with you. A submission to the one true tacit ruleset. It’s humbling. The silence curls up at my toes, occasionally stands to arch its long back, moves against my shins. 


A room smells like it rained inside and they shut all the doors. I look at old wooden toys like they’re speaking a foreign language, gesture-less. The house may not have existed. The town may no longer appear on maps, may no longer be incorporated. The town had a small museum filled with pictures of sprouting fields. A patient history cycling out, waiting to turn fallow, chronicling the moments and declarations unraveling and ending with the screaming of cicadas at dusk. 

Hands puffy and raw in the heat. The road is gravel and dips steeply in places. The spring turns it to mud. That low thunder sound like a bottle breaking against white siding stretched out. You can rub it around in the dirt and your hand will be brown and marked with small red reminders. I wish I could’ve been there, I wish I could’ve cut down the apple tree with my own hands, climbing to the top to hack off every branch, spending hours working against the mutilated trunk until it slowly turned horizontal against the grass, dry in August. My hands would be red blistered, pain radiant from the gripped handle. It still wouldn’t be done. I would split the wood against the stump to turn into logs then carry them to the shed to desiccate. The winter would burn the wood.

I would’ve tied a chain around the trunk and dug the wheels of a faded red Toyota pick-up into the ground (August), crescendoing and de-crescendoing until the air was dirt, until the roots un-gripped. The windows would be rolled all the way down and the cab would be filled with exhaust and earth. The trunk would be drug roaring in the rear view like Hector’s body before the walls of Ilium. 

Later, I would think of the skin of my knees peeled back against the concrete in front of a tall building made of glass and steel while the air smells heavy with rain, the wind. 




Aaron Calvin is a writer from Iowa and now lives in Brooklyn. His work has appeared on BuzzFeedAskMen.comVice, and Men's Journal