A MOMENT (ON THE GALLOWS) • by Bosley Gravel

There is a moment when the kitten pounces on the unsuspecting dragonfly, when the lost cockleshell is found and the little girl in a yellow bathing suit drains the seawater back into the sea… the noose comes tight against his throat. His flesh is stronger than his soul; he grasps for the last few seconds of lucidity and tells himself, “You can’t hang forever, old man.” But his body refuses to give up so easily.

There is a moment of warm flesh, of gorgeous full breasts in his palms, where he can taste the perfume on her neck. The far horizon is curved, sunlight breaks through the nimbus clouds; for a moment he doubts his godlessness. He tries a small prayer; he wants emptiness, coldness, indifference to wash away this moment. He can see them: men, no more or less than he, spitting tobacco juice on the ground. The children stare, the women look away, but the men, the men gossip, as they watch him twist and fight.

There is a moment of boyhood when he remembers how he once stole a peach and ate it hidden in a tree. The fuzzy texture was like new sister’s head, soft and fragile. There was a moment he looked into her glossy eyes and touched the soft dip in her head, and then looked to Mother as new sister’s fever cooked her alive, and she died in Mother’s arm. There was a moment when the peach pit was discarded, somehow it survived the crows and the squirrels, and the next spring a tree was born.

There is a moment where he feels the crude tug of his flesh against his pants–a spasm. There is a moment he thinks of his bastard children, mothered by whores and thieves. He thinks of them in the highlands, the lowlands, the coasts, and the great plains, becoming men and women, living in their moment. “At least those fragments will continue on, old man,” he thinks, and fights for a breath; when he gets it, he suddenly understands those stupid pie-eyed priests and their sacrament. This moment he believes there is something divine in the world when a simple breath can bring a shivering and perfect orgasm to his dying flesh.

There is a moment when the world spins in a great circle, and there is a moment when it runs down, and it must reverse. Between these times is the moment where it is neither one, and the hanged man swings in the breeze, stinking of earthly wastes; his flesh goes slack — stinking and grinning as he shucks off the meat, and moves on.


Bosley Gravel was born in the Midwest and came of age in Texas and southern New Mexico. He has worked numerous dead end jobs, and now makes a living working on computer networks and various related activities. He has been making up stories from an early age, and from time to time they end up on paper.

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