Qualia Literary & Art Journal

The Excrement Inside Babies

Away from the water-reflected skies, Agatha dreams of the river. It is always there, flowing in her veins, giving off its cooler airs. The river is in her blood now. Alongside the silver curves Agatha smells mud and root.

Flocks of crows live along the river bank. Crow’s crab-apple song lifts up the heat of summer and circles it with sky. When winter strips away all the colors of autumn and fades the sun, it is Crows voice that defies the bitter wind – puts life into Agatha’s day.

Next to the mirror water, he walks hobble-footed as he searches through river stones, uncovered by the tide. When Agatha passes he flies up into the willow trees for a better look at Agatha and her dog – looks down at her out of one eye and caws. ‘Kaarr!’

Great imitators, Crows have listened to the rub of branch on branch, the creak of trees in the wind – the crack of overburdened wood.

Her mother had been a violinist and had rubbed on wood for hours a day – to bring forth Tchaikovsly, Brahms, Bruch. “Kaarr. Kaarr ”

Agatha’s birth had made her mother put down her bow and change her diapers instead. How terrible had been her mother’s cries:

I wish I was dead! I wish I was dead! “Kaarr Karrr”

And the dreadful day, when her mother found Agatha showing her vagina to the boy down stairs, and her mother, finally, told the truth.

I wish you were dead. “Kaarr Kaarr”

Agatha is gone into herself. Inside there is silence. The silence after a violence has taken place. It is only now, by the river, in a murder of crows, that Agatha can see, it was her mother, the familiar loving face, who killed.

Life is an open door. Agatha must wait for her mother to pass through before her, so that her mother can have it first. Their shadows, stretch through the opening, over the lintel. Agatha’s shadow is the tallest and holds the door open. They are both frozen.

How can Agatha pass through before her mother and let the door swing back in her face? Instead Agatha longs for her mother’s death, and pecks at their shadow. “Karr Karr”

By the river Agatha walks. Her mind spins and talks to itself. It replays the past over and over, and comments to itself. Agatha’s mind is an immense book, but instead of flowing in tidal, silver, curves, like the river – there is nothing but footnotes – commentaries on commentaries – all reflecting the one stark fact. Agatha’s beginning was her mother’s end.

Crow’s eye is bright. It is not a kind eye. It pierces. He stares – head to one side. This morning, Agatha watches Crow as he stands on a rock next to the water. The wind untidies his black feathers. A boat passes. Wavelets break at Crows feet, and he ducks, not decided yet, whether or not, he is going to fly.

About the Author

Anita Harmon was born in London at the end of the Second World War. She studied  at the Lycée Francais de Londres, and went on to become an improvisational actress on the London stage. At the same time she went back to school to study psychology, gained her degree, and as well as having a private practice for many years, she worked in the business community, teaching communication skills. Now retired, Anita Harmon lives in California and writes poetry and nonfiction.