We make-up our faces pretty.
We blend red dirt with mud that’s brown as the chocolate some of us remember eating, in the time before. We mix charcoal with purple berries and red bitterroot. See how I rub dandelion over my eyebrows, and ragweed on my temples so the pollen glistens. Watch how I contour with clay, highlight with ash, smudge with mossy tree bark.
I daub my lips with venom, plumping them so they hide my sharp teeth.
I have spent a whole day grinding the white landscaping stone, stolen in the silver of the waxing moon, into powder. I have sung the song of creating as I worked, in the words of the time before and the time of now. I mix the white stone powder, flecked with quartz that shimmers, with rainwater, sifting with nimble fingers to make a paste.
We remember designs from museums, from libraries, from places that no longer exist. We teach our remaining young the Starry Nights, the drip technique, vaginas inside flowers, Guernica. We blend whorls and dots and lines on our faces and throats in our own patterns.
You overran us with your chatbots and your algorithm. For peace, you offered tools crafted with virus and bugs, cookies laced with chemicals to melt our insides. So many Trojan horses. So many filters. You copied and looped songs of repentance while you dirtied our waters, danced on our graves, blew the tops off our mountains.
You took away our children.
We have waited. We have slunk in shadows. We have crept around the edges of the blue light. We have lived in the dead-tree forest, sheltering under fungi grown enormous and tumor-bloated, paddled rafts made from our former houses down rivers of sludge. We live in the places you haven’t yet discovered, the hidden places you haven’t yet remade with your mimicry and your devices.
And we have remembered.
We pour into the city by night, peering into windows and looking out from inside mirrors and screens. You look quickly over your shoulders, or shiver for no reason, or think you hear, from somewhere far away, the lonely barking of a dog, the cry of a baby. You see us on the edge or your peripheral vision, but you won’t turn your heads.
We are right here among you as you dream by night, slippery as a sigh, the ones you forgot who have not forgotten you.
We’ll show you our pretty faces soon.