Human relations is absurd. Knowledge is absurd. Ethics & even belief absurd. When you say to another person “Please hand me that package of frozen peas” & the person hands you that package of frozen peas it is absurd. One moment you do not know something & then the next moment you do. Something once existed that does not any longer exist & also the other way. Folk tales & myths assume the impossibility of their events. In this way they are non-fiction. They are never not true. Consider the role of fiction to be a limitation, a rendering of signs that accumulates into a false positive. This story really happened. It is happening to you later today, after you discover the shoebox full of spiders hidden beneath your bed.
Mathias Svalina is the author of one book of poems, Destruction Myth (Cleveland State Poetry Center), one book of prose that comes out July 2011, I Am A Very Productive Entrepreneur (Mud Luscious Press), & numerous chapbooks. With Zachary Schomburg he edits Octopus Magazine & Octopus Books.
A woman had been pregnant for almost two years. The day after the anniversary of her due date her husband became pregnant as well. It happened all at once. One day he was a skinny man with a skinny man’s pointy beard. The next day he was completely pregnant, his breasts distended & slack as old stocking caps.
It is a lucky thing to have a pregnant woman in one’s village, so the villagers had been happy about the woman’s long pregnancy. However, no one could decide if a pregnant man was lucky or unlucky.
The pregnant man complained about the pain in his back & how his breast milk leaked & soured inside his coat. He spent more time now with his wife, huddled together on the couch, whispering things to each other that they immediately forgot.
The mayor of the village visited the pregnant couple. There had been a meeting of the villagers & he’d been required to visit the pregnant couple to straighten things out.
“What are you planning to do,” asked the mayor of the pregnant man.
“I’m not certain,” the pregnant man responded. “This has all been quite sudden. I think I will remain pregnant for a while longer & make my decision then.”
“Do you know,” asked the mayor, “if it is lucky for a village to have a pregnant man in the village?”
The man did not know, but he was worried about the repercussions if they thought him to be unlucky, so he told the mayor that it was the luckiest thing of all to have a pregnant man in one’s village because it was so rare.
The mayor left & the pregnant man & his pregnant wife went to bed, but the pregnant wife found that she could not sleep. The baby inside her was kicking & turning about so much that it kept her up. Finally she decided that the only way to get some sleep was to give birth to the baby.
The woman woke her husband up & told him that she wanted to give birth to the baby. He put some water on to boil & fetched the clean towels from the closet & he called their midwife who said she’d be over in twenty minutes.
As the pregnant couple waited for the midwife they watched a little tv. It was late so there were mostly just reruns. They watched an episode of a Law & Order in which a preacher had killed his wife & claimed god made him do it. Sam Waterson was just about to turn the preacher’s god against him when there was a knock on the door.
The midwife was at the door, but the mayor was as well, which was a surprise.
The pregnant woman got some drinks for the midwife & the mayor & put some coffee on to percolate. Then she set herself down on the living room floor in order to give birth. Her husband began to get jealous, though, & he decided he wanted to give birth then as well. He set himself up on the floor as well.
The mayor refilled his drink. He was getting pretty drunk. The midwife sat between the two pregnant people.
The pregnant couple began to give birth at the same time, but at the moment when the babies were about to come out the mayor drunkenly tripped over & fell between them & they accidentally gave birth to the mayor. Then, since she was no longer pregnant, the woman went to sleep.
After that the mayor had to move into their house & they had to raise him up. It was difficult at first because all the books they had about raising babies were designed for small babies rather than adult babies. It was difficult for the mayor as well, because he needed to suckle at the breasts of his mother & father. This behavior does not endear one to voters.
by Mathias Svalina