Originally published in the Hell is Real Anthology, October 2022
Pea Flower Tomioka
We drove the car back to where the trees were breathing, which was probably the first mistake.
After the one where I told him I would marry him but not the one where I told him I was fucking you
which is to say we told him after the night swallowed us
that way I swallowed my teeth when men like tree trunks fisted my face instead of my pussy
at the Descendents show I lied about my age to get into.
He was behind the wheel in blackness inking sideways down our vision.
How the world warned, and you could feel the space fill like fear rush flooding to icy winter.
I felt the monsters push us off the road. We didn’t skid.
And I know Wisconsin tires the way I know the secret holes in my song
how my tongue spills into the gaps where molars and sanity used to fill my mouth.
Before the ice and the blizzards
and the decade alone under a blanket of snow that hides the sins of his fists.
Let him touch my face, loose molar again with these kisses. I was always punk enough.
But we never told him how I’d stripped slow under the dome light’s dreaming frost
my breasts firm spilling over to chilling air
a choir of songs erected into your wanting mouth, or how the windows had steamed and melted ice.
How we’d thought the cracking was the sound of our fingertips alight on the other’s eager skin
until I saw them breathing
HEARD them BREATHING
and the world had groaned around us as the sky slipped black from winter’s lit way
the moon suddenly gone.
I saw them breathing, I had told you
and you had looked over my bare shoulder Leonard Cohen smudging the air with his song and us breathing it in like smoke
then holding it like we were underwater instead of underfoot.
And we can hear how their groaning icicle hunger rumbles closer. It echoes into nothingness beyond reason, and I clamp down upon you where we are bound
I need you here my lover my better judgement my love come back with me lover we will feast or be feasted on do not fall into echo your eyes snap to mine
fully under the spell of me
I am born of this soil I am responsible for your safety in all things local
the heat between us scalding senses and burning a hole in the seat. I drop my cigarette and scream as you slam the car into reverse.
We had been caught in the snow for a moment, near halfway- backed out of madness before the car lurched sideward
and threw beams across the homestead. That towering, drunken black house
talismanic pulses Stephen King wet dreams about
and I had heard the names of ancient gods devoted to such frenzy—
hungry teeth, icicles heavy in the first spring thaw.
And did you know he told me he’d thought that Lovecraft spent time in Spring Green? Ancestral homes alive with horror.
Looking back after, you told me you thought maybe Lovecraft had seen the trees, too.
Breathing in winter. And the sound,
Jesus, the sound of them, how they had ached and groaned in
eldritch tonal bass, waking to find young lovers foolishly sacrificing flesh.
I had felt the snow grip falter, and you slamming the gas. We never spoke of it again.
But he, my love, he was behind the wheel in blackness inking sideways down our vision.
And he knew more about the occult than anyone I’d ever known, so we told him
about the trees.
He went to the car,
and I didn’t want to go back, but I knew the way and so help me Baby, I loved him too, in the only way I knew to love, so
we hit that curve at the bottom of hell
raising gates to trick us—the danger is passed, now again is only farmland—
but we knew it was growing fields of seasonal derangement. Generations of monsters born of this earth have feasted from there, at the bottom of the gulch.
A full 180 turn into a downward scream of black ice
dangling over the bluff, into a threat to tumble down into the creek below,
the ones that ran red
the ones that feed the breathing trees
and the strange fruit they grew eons after roots coiled to Azathothian delights
and I knew we were pushed.
And the headlights crazy angle into them again, the trees, but there is no house to see.
How we upward spun into and through that promise of Death the sparks blinding and the screaming metal and voices I am not sure were mine.
How Death cradled us—we were supposed to die.
I thought we would lift feather float from the guilts we bore like my grandfather’s brother touching the little cousins in dark corners, and the silence family keeps.
How it weighs us anchor to the shame, and I thought we would fly, weightless for an instant.
We can only watch, and
I have worshipped her as Mother ever since.
I have worshipped Death for my continuing life.
I never told him.
How I held your cock as sacred before these horrors, or how it forgot to wither when we escaped.
But he never saw how the trees breathed.
Baby, that was our wedding night—we were bound as flesh and promise in Death’s arms,
so I married you. He asked me first, but I married you, Husband, and we lost the way back into the horrors of our youth
but every tight corner we take, I still feel the ice under the tires lie because we were fucking pushed,
pushed by the madness which poisons Wisconsin’s blackest earth.
Glacial evils breeding
like maggots in the eye sockets of dead deer and 17 young men—
This earth grips.
It sticks to the ribs.
I don’t know why I’m telling you this.
It’s decades behind us. But I still buy cars with 4-wheel drive.
I just need you to know that the trees were breathing and that I loved you enough to keep these secrets,
and the ones where I rise above you in black nights backlit by bare tree branches.
How I shiver to the breathing.
How their reaching ancient limbs bade welcome to rings where witches bleed out power as sacrifice
and white men bleed out black.
And I wonder if you realize that all these shivers are authenticated in this breathing. How I can’t define the edges between our lust and how close Death came to losing us in that
coven of trees—
where every shiver is seeded from such fear.
Tomioka, Pea Flower, Title credit: Hilborn, Neil. "Wisconecronomicon", Hell is Real Anthology, October 2022. https://www.lulu.com/shop/kate-doughty-and-nat-raum-and-jack-apollo-hartley/hell-is-real/hardcover/product-jg7p8v.html?q=&page=1&pageSize=4
About the author
Pea is an artist focused on building an art therapy platform through transformative art and positive erotica to help victims of sexual violence reclaim their power. She lives on a small island and hides from loud noises.