Crack the Spine Issue 96 - Page 8

the oasis. By the fourteenth day, traveling south, then further east, then south some more, the philosopher, a calm and reasonable mind, felt the unfamiliar fluttering of panic in his breast. He trekked west; perhaps he had gone too far east instead of south. He trekked north. On the nineteenth day, supplies dwindling, he dropped the camel’s rope and stood still. Reason is indistinguishable from madness in the desert. Facing north, towards his homeland, the philosopher raised his right forearm to his forehead—to block the sun?—and resolved to stand still, to expend as little energy as possible, to hope for rescue. On the first day, the sun turned his shoulder to stone. When night fell, the philosopher tried to lower his arm and found that he could not. He looked down and saw the stony skin. He reached across with his left hand and felt his shoulder: the hard, rough grain of sandstone. He dropped back his left arm, lest it too turn to stone. On the second day, the stone weight of his left ankle sank into the sand. Each day, the sun turned another patch of skin to stone. But the philosopher did not die; the stone kept him alive. A triage on the living body, limbs and non-essential organs ossified first. When the sluggish blood could no longer feed the hungry brain, his head hardened, his last thoughts on the immortality of the immaterial soul. Only the chest remained alive, the attenuated chest. The blood pooled in the chambers of the heart and it beats still, a statue of living flesh.