by Rich Ives
Red, or The Reinvention of Russian Cabbage
Ornate Cabbage Bug
Yakov has a large body, a bit reddish. He eats cabbage, which may also be red. He is constantly signaling, his touchers bent to five joints for optimum transmission and reception. Now he is seeking turnips and another male with variant color is broadcasting. No decision is made to do this. He cannot help himself.
The government, however, does not like turnips. Turnips are corrupting the people. Turnips keep the country backwards. Some say they have been shamelessly influencing the cabbages, misrepresenting the long and honorable folk history of the more reliable cabbages. Turnips are the wrong color.
Yakov emits pheromones, and Anna produces a chant at a low frequency, transmitted to a cabbage plant and received by Yakov six feet away. He emits an echoing chant, hops closer and closer. Anna then modifies her chant to accept or reject him, but her rejection chants are worn out. Yakov is the one.
She places little egg packets, little black barrels encircled in white with a lid, a dozen in two rows, on the leaves. These are your children, Yakov. For now, they are obedient, and they do not oppose the government. People with short lives oppose the government.
Despite the size of the country, no one is missing in Russia. If you are missing, you are in jail, and there are many kinds of jail, but you are not really missing. The velocity of jail is slow and fat, but it is not still. It takes you with it wherever it dumbly goes. Now let’s erode, says jail, but it does not erode itself. That’s what you are there for, the health of the jail. It has to keep in shape or you will be its last guest.
No one really escapes prison because another prison is the fear of prison. If you didn’t fear it, you wouldn’t try to escape it. But Yakov is party-approved, and even though the party doesn’t formally exist as it once did, Yakov feels safe. This too is a deception, but it’s a deception Anna can live with.
The cabbage, however, belongs to its own party, and its own party destroys it every fall. In the spring, the cabbage must reinvent itself, but this is Russia, and the cabbage reinvents itself the same way every spring, just like it does in every other country.
Suspect has a fondness for metallic blue-green clothing, sometimes with a reddish cast. Suspect’s third abdominal segment has sub-marginal grooves, hollowed out ventrally. Suspect has been known to become parasitic upon relatives of the sand wasp variations. The victim may well have had no understanding at all of what was happening.
Suspect has been traced to the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains.
Time, it appears, has little to do with the concept of murder although various elements of any particular murder must rely upon certain quantities of time and the location of desirable victims.
Suspect invades the storage chambers designated for the children and utilizes the food that is stored in the nest. Has been known to invade even those varieties of related children previously known to it. When these supplies are exhausted, Suspect kills host.
If you are reliant upon the death of others to exist, can it be considered murder? You must, after all, choose the elements of already existing life that shall be used to sustain you.
Suspect may often be found in the nests of solitary Bees and Wasps of the punk-band variety that tend to build their nests in the ground. Clothing considerations vary widely but generally remain brightly colored.
Does not everything that lives depend in some way upon the death of something else that lives? considers Suspect. Why should we fear the death of our own kind? Are we not equally a part of the natural world? Are we not guilty of existence?
Second Suspect swings his net through the air just above the plants of the meadow and begins selecting from said net the specimens he wishes to isolate. Other suspects are busy shopping.
Relativity and Guidelines in the Study of Communicable Diseases
Hanif is brown or gray. Sometimes he is more than his own behavior.
> feeding on animal or human blood
> causing sleeping sickness in humans, Nagana in animals
< larvae hatching inside a female’s body, feeding on glandular secretions
< the wooded savannah and bush of Africa
Hanif has achieved his majority, but even as a child, he was as large as a mature adult.
> noncommittal weather cycles
> the end of the world as we have thus far known it
< the smell of time in a jar covered for decades
< shelled almonds with husk wings sleeping in a wooden bowl
. . . and the cop coptered out of his uniform, spinning bitten to the grass to indulge his last delight in descent.
You have to sneak up on them, indirectly.
Diadem Garden Spider
The spokes of the martyr’s wheel are balanced and made of silk, eighteen to forty-two strands, depending on how hungry I am. I work circular, about three feet from ground. Each delicate relic is fifteen to twenty inches. A little above the knees my silk wheel reaches like the right invisible dress. If the wheel fails, or if something unworthy leaps into it, I make no repairs. A new wheel is always the better idea though the old wheel’s torn silk can be a tasty entertainment. If I have to, I’ll eat my broken efforts several times a day before anything fresh arrives.
Yes, I’m European. The country doesn’t matter. I came to North America at the end of the 19th century. I carry the cross. I drop to the ground on a thread when I need to hide. I can carry several hundred eggs in my yellowy orange cocoon, but when I leave them behind, I die.
Superstition: Encase me in glued walnut shell halves and wear me around your neck to lower a fever or heal pulmonary infection.
Superstition: I placed my woven wheel over Christ’s wounds to keep the flies away.
You should know that males are smaller in many ways. They load their ridiculous pedipalps (as if they were boxing gloves) with sperm and merely make their deposit. Each variation on the theme has a different name for the elements of assignation. My sisters all know the differences. They do not think of it as sex.
You might be thinking I’m the martyr. You’d be wrong. I don’t mind if you struggle.
Report Concerning Recent Sales Limitations
Celestial Quadrant: none
Wind Factor: irrelevant
Wool Factor: irrelevant
Precipitation Factor: minimal but not obsolete
Appearance Factors: reddish-brown with dark spots and both pale and dark stripes frequently found inside the victim
Intelligence Quotient: untenable
Primary Causal Factor: larvae feeding on corn, tomatoes, cotton, tobacco as well as wild plants
Nature of the Debility: ears often rendered unfit for marketing
Severity of the Infestation: understood thoroughly only by the subject who is unable to communicate
Alternate Marketing Potential: may tolerate only moonlighting
Investment Limitations: coagulant
Orientation of Affected Territories: formerly vertical
Location of Intrusion: stem at ground level
Location of Sustenance Chambers: uncontained, throughout United States and zones of economic annexation
Capacity for Interference: nearly absolute
AKA: cutworm and/or temporary presidential or executive influence and/or patient terrorist
Rich Ives has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, and others for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and the 2012 winner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award.
Fiction by Rich Ives:
"Insects" April 2020