The history of dew is the story of a single day. Early in the morning a girl came out of the water and onto the rocks, fully-formed in the body of a homely seventeen-year-old. She was slowly squeezed out of the medium-sized tentacle of a very large octopus, born inky into warm shallows and dripping as she awkwardly climbed onto land.
She shook out her short hair, and blinked the ink out of her eyes, and looked out over stone and sand. She got up and she walked.
As she walked, she saw bits of things – the curve of a shell, the facet of a grain of sand, the nubbled texture of a leaf – but she could never see the whole shape of anything at any one time, and so she traveled in a visual space made only of bits and pieces.
As she looked at a thing, though she could not see it in its entirety, still she tried to talk with it, to ask it what it was and who she was, but she couldn’t speak (she had not yet learned how to make sounds with her beak) and so she touched it instead – graze – you are beautiful – rub – why are you here? – tickle – will you come with me? As she touched things she tasted them with her fingers, and she mapped her route according to sour and sugary and putrid and astringent. She passed her hours this way, feeling the warmth on her body as the sun moved through the sky while she moved over the rocks.
At the end of the day, she climbed up onto a rock overlooking a spider’s web. While the sun was setting she closed her eyes, and as the red and orange and purple light touched her body she slowly melted, piece by piece: now a downy cheek, now a fingernail, now the curve of an ankle. As she melted, the drops fell off the rock and into the spider’s web. As each drop landed in the web, it gave its colors back to the sunset, and the sun gave it back a rainbow to wear on it surface.
Soon it was dark, and the spiderweb was covered in dewdrops that shone with the light of the stars. The spider came back and as it stepped on the web it shook the dew loose. One by one, the dewdrops fell into the mouths of shellfish gaping eagerly in the water below. One by one they closed their shells. And when the sun rose the next morning, the shellfish opened again to give the sun some of the colors that now shone in the pearls they held in their mouths.
[To return to The Elizabeths, head over this way.]