This Is That Is Not This by Matt Bell


What if the terrible was not terrible. What if beauty
was not absolute but gradated. Here a tale to break
the old equivalencies: Now a wolf is not a wolf
but a wolf is a girl. A tower is a tunnel, a stomach
just a darker world, we live where we live, we desire
what we fear what we love. A bloom is an apple is a gift
of poison. To bind into a book a story about surfaces.
To paint anything upon a cave wall except meaning.
You can be lulled by anything sharp, a briar or a
pinprick, but it’s the dull that bores. A metaphor requires
an inhabitation but what you receive is metamorphosis.
When the wolf takes the stage then to the newly deaf
there is little difference between a howl and a yawn.
Whatever difference exists is found in the teeth,
in the shape of the tongue’s lolling punctuation,
is it an exclamation or a query, is it something
harbored in the wrinkles of the eye, the bellow
of the nose. A qualifier unspoken, except in the body
language of an abstraction. A snake that eats
its own tail lets other prey escape.



Matt Bell‘s novel In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods was published in 2013 by Soho Press. He is also the author of two previous books, How They Were Found and Cataclysm Baby, and his work has been anthologized in Best American Mystery Stories and Best American Fantasy. He teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Northern Michigan University.