The Species, Broadly

Tyler Barton


Two women on the ottoman thought about the species, broadly. The third about a bird nest fallen in her yard. On a seat at the storefront window, a dude worried God just didn't want him taking German, or Judo. A coven of conspiratorial old men along the cafe bar argued The Principle, really broke down and reassembled and polished and advertised and made no money on the sale of the principle, the principle of matter, the principle being where they lived, fought, died, and the rest of us had no sense, not a drop, not enough to fill a thimble. A lawyer unlatched her briefcase and clapped. All the ice in my coffee congealed into an iceberg, whispered a dispossessed teenager in line for the pisser. A dove struck the window. One young girl gasped. Boy Scouts in full regalia stood at the front door, holding Oreos, wondering what coffee tasted of, did it taste of rained-on sand, spring beaches, did it taste of our savior, the Lord? The principal considered not returning to the school at all, even after the strike ended. A dream does not believe itself to be a threat. The flyer for the deathcore drummer admired the flyer for the dogwalker. The species wandered widely. The bombing had been that morning. The silent detonation no one heard, though the meekest of the old men swore he sensed something—a twinge of ear hair, wrong wrinkles in his left slack. The trains ran late every day. Get in line. A person flipped an egg and thought about their niece crawling through the same yard where a duckling had once walked across their bare back, those pats of buttery feet, and the egg burned fully through. The bomb had no thoughts because the bomb had never, like any of us, asked to be born. No one was injured so it didn't make the feed, but it was a sneer in the atmosphere, like just you wait until the quiet bomb catches on, reaches speeds, comes to us at home, or here at Java Jo's, the whispered destruction, the kind of rain you don't even see until your car begins to spin. The birds all fell from the sky at once. The person asleep in the loveseat is dreaming.