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Three Bottles

Barbara Rosenthal*



A package was delivered to my house today, and in it were three bottles. The first contained clear water, distilled and immaculate. I drank it and became clean and purified. The second contained clear air, an ozonized mixture of lively vapors. The third bottle contained blood from the breast of a small, singing bird. Its death could not have been prevented. Its blood was all that was preserved.

With this blood I doused my body, greasing my skin evenly and smoothly. When I went out of doors debris from the city stuck to me: cast-off skin cells and eyelashes and mucous, small bits of brick and tar and slivers of glass and tin, sticky plastic wrappers and decaying food and dog hairs. Immediately, I got into my car and drove to the country. The debris fell away; the blood on my body gleamed fresh and shiny in the sun. I stood under a clear waterfall and swam in a crystal pond.

All day I played and danced in the country, and at twilight I lay on the ground and fell peacefully to sleep.

In the middle of the night I awoke. My eyelids were stuck together and wouldn't open. I panicked in my enforced darkness, and ran about pulling at my face, stumbling, crashing into trees and bushes, frightened, breathless, lost. Soon I discovered the doorstep of a small, wooden house. When I knocked on the door a musical voice answered, and a delicate, feminine hand led me to a sweet, fresh bed and caressed me back to sleep. Some time later I awoke again, and my eyelids opened. The air was buoyant and bright. I was adrift and alone, afloat in a soundless, planetless atmosphere.



*2009 WOOD COIN: Help Like Kelp Issue: Rosenthal, “Three Bottles”