‘mark but this flea’

She was so old now that once she crossed her fingers, the flesh turned to powder and the powder turned back to stardust but he didn’t care. She still looked at him with desire, even though his back had been hunched from birth and his eyes jumped too quickly from one object to another. She calmed him down, stilled his mind, brought all the bright things sharply into focus. That she was disappearing from the world made him love her all that much more.

She saw things when she slept that changed him. One bright and cold December morning, after they had pressed against one another on his tattered pallet and fallen asleep, she shook him awake and urged him to find his small bone microscope. She told him that in her dream the world was turned to honeycombs; that even the smallest speck of dust had thousands of little rooms inside. She plucked a dead flea from his naked skin; though no longer living it had it already had rendered a red and raised bump on his pale skin. He took the flea from the tip of her finger (still crumbling, still gossamer), placed it on a small piece of mirrored glass that he kept on his table. White light shot through his tiny window and pooled on the floor. He carried the glass to the spot, and angled the mirror until he found a prism. Looking through the scope, the flea had grown to four times its size. As he moved the glass the honeycomb shapes that she had told him would appear shivered into focus.

He looked over at her as she clutched her bare knees. She smiled and nodded at him before evaporating, leaving the smell of burning wax and dust. His hands were shaking so hard that he dropped the mirror. While picking up the tiny shards, he recalled the poem that she whispered to him the night before as they tumbled into one another –

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,   
How little that which thou deniest me is;   
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be*
Hooke's Flea, From 'Micrographia'

Hooke’s Flea, From ‘Micrographia’

*John Donne – The Flea
I wrote some things (including the above) over on a tumblr site but the place never stuck like this one has. I feel like this place has been calmly waiting for my summer to start when I’d have time to write here again. But if you’re so inclined – http://howoldthisplaceis.tumblr.com/

3 thoughts on “‘mark but this flea’

  1. Love this! The way you tell stories is magnificent…the imagery always gets me. Have missed your writing and am glad you will hunker down here for the summer. 🙂 XOXO-Kasey

  2. Thanks, Kasey! It’s one of my summer resolutions to write creatively every day this summer — I get plenty of academic writing but often not enough of the super fun stuff. xo

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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