Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors compare their recently released books to weird things. This week Brook Bhagat writes about her hybrid story collection, Only Flying, out now from Unsolicited Press.
If Only Flying were a spider, it would be a black widow praying the rosary, lace veil draped to her abdomen. A tear would drip from her fang, and she would look to you as if to say, Is there any Cat?
If Only Flying were a cat, it would be the alley cat in the lightning tree who has never belonged to anyone but herself. She does not need you, does not want the cream you have brought for her, but she will take the ring.
If Only Flying were a ring, it would be a magic ring made of diamonds and gold and rubies and plastic. You wouldn’t know what its powers were, but when your ears grew long as ribbons, you would remember it was yours all along, waiting for you in the jungle.
If Only Flying were a jungle, it would be a jungle full of tigers. They’re not after you, but if you couldn’t be still, if you ran, they would chase you and they would catch you. They would bite you and the poison would go in your blood. It would paralyze you, make you blind, make you forget why you are here. And then you would drop the thread.
If Only Flying were a thread, it would be a thread tethered to a meadow, a weightless layer of earth and wildflowers trailing along in the ether of a different atmosphere. You would climb it when you were light, early morning alone, toes gripping buttons and beads. A blue gypsy horse would be napping there, a mare who would let you lean on her as you read, let you lean on her and her dreams.
If Only Flying were a dream, it would be the dream of the shadow goddess, naked, a brown silhouette on the not-yet sunrise floating down over the skyscrapers, the string to a blue paisley kite in one hand and a cigarette in the other. You would rise to your feet on the rain-clean cement of the sixth-story roof, climb up the clothesline, jump onto her legs and drift with her: building, building, neighborhood; building, city, water. She would lift the eye of the ember to the edge of the kite, and you would plummet like a comet into the river.
If Only Flying were a river, it would be a river that would only find the leverage to jump out of its bed when it hit the catastrophe rock. On that day, though, it would jump. It would leave the comfortable moss, the minnows’ gossip, and the sound of its own body rubbing past stones, on or around. It would surrender, leap without choosing, a reflection in air of the path it had known before—the meadow, the factory, the wooden swing. The cottonwoods, black and white. It would become the ocean it had always wanted to meet, silent now, still flowing down the same path. Only flying.
Brook Bhagat is the author of Only Flying, a Pushcart-nominated collection of surreal poetry and flash fiction on paradox, rebellion, transformation, and enlightenment from Unsolicited Press. Her work has won contests at A Story in 100 Words and Loud Coffee Press, and it has been published in Empty Mirror, Prometheus Dreaming, Soundings East, The Alien Buddha Goes Pop, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, and other journals and anthologies. She is a founding editor of Blue Planet Journal and an assistant professor of creative writing. Read her work and learn more about Only Flying at https://brook-bhagat.com/ and follow her on Twitter at @BrookBhagat.