Living Things

She hulls seeds she will bake into bread

Waiting for people to find their way to her

When they tire of haggling over things they need

They'll come to her for things they want

Before the pulse, stories were everywhere

To watch, to listen to, to read on devices

But then machines died, and so did the power

People need heat—paper burned, books burned

She's positioned in the market between the orange seller

And the woman who scents her stall with flowers

Her stories carry the tang of juice and rose and lilies

Or evergreens and herbs if flowers are out of season

She learned the first stories from her family, then their friends

Once she had enough in her head, she invented her own

Until the true stories faded and the news ones were all she told

Today is Tuesday: serial day

She's been telling this particular story for five weeks

Sees familiar faces heading her way—this story is popular

They will pass it on when they get home, and then on again

Her story will change, transformed by different ways of telling

Her stories live this way She doesn't own them; she only tells them

They track the days of the week for her

Wednesday is children’s stories; her listeners parents and children both

Who'll gather to listen, to laugh, to gasp, even to cry

They'll take the stories home, tell them until they are worn

Like an old doll or beloved stuffed animal

Milk, eggs, meat: these things can feed you but once

Stories nourish for a lifetime