Three Texts

Mathias Svalina

Face Leaf

(for 6 players)

Each child begins his or her life as a tree. While they are still able to move the children make a circle near the city hall building. The teachers water the children’s feet every day until they root into the dirt. Soon thereafter their legs fuse together & grow a tough brown coating. Their torsos do the same & the children must hold their arms above their heads as their fingers separate into hundreds of tight green buds & sprout. The canopy of trees grows thick around the city hall building, blocking out the sun. The mayor & the lawyers exit the building each day, not noticing the trees growing larger.

Soon the trees have grown so large the mayor & the lawyers must push their bodies through the spaces between the trees, covering their blue suits in sap. One day the spaces between the trees is so tight that when the mayor & the lawyers try to exit the city hall their bodies get wedged between the trees. Slowly their bodies are coated in sap & the sap dries & winter comes & snow smothers the land & the parents of the children call up the stairs “Wake up Michael.” “Wake up Julia.” Until they remember that those beds are empty & they pull a piece of paper from their pockets & they write something down.

Making Jam

(for 1 or more players)

Making jam is for the quietest boy in the class. One day he wears a white sack over his head & ties it tight at his throat. The students in his class all begin to notice him & smile.

The next day he paints his entire body the color of the walls. The students gather their plastic chairs around him & patiently watch.

The next day he removes his arms & legs & replaces them with abstract nouns. He hides his arms & legs in a mop closet where no one will find them. At this point he is no longer shy. The other students call him new names that they make up as they go along. The county government awards him an award that comes with a large silver medal.

The medal is so large that he must remove his torso & replace it with the medal. When the students look at him they are blinded by the shine of the medal. When birds fly by him they get confused.

After he is elected governor the boy remembers his arms & legs, but when he opens the mop closet door he sees that each arm & leg have grown into a full person. They all look similar to him, but none of them look exactly like him.

It Looks Like War

(for 16 or more players)

One child is taller than the other children. One child is the smallest. The child with the darkest skin does not sit beside the child with the shiniest shoes. The child with the longest hair does not like the child with the longest name. The children gather in a circle & sing:

     Weak man, poor man, blind man, wife

     There are no wounds when there is no knife

     Strong man, rich man, priest or king

     Every city looks sacred when it is burning.

The light refracting through broken bifocals can start a fire in the scattered newspapers. The soldiers outside the gates drain blood from their horses & drink it with black pepper.

Mathias Svalina is a co-editor of Octopus Magazine & Books. He is the author of the chapbooks Why I Am White (Kitchen Press, 2007), Creation Myths (New Michigan Press, 2007) & The Viral Lease (Small Anchor Press, 2008). His first full-length book, Destruction Myth, is forthcoming from Cleveland State University Press in 2009.