She Holds Up The River

Slow work, this.

Pythia has need of her, so has stirred her from sleep and set her loose. She leaves the colony behind, leaves the still-sleeping forms of her sister brothers, moves beyond the anserine gate with nothing on her back but the water-resistant coat the sunken ship wove for her and her own rust-red teeth, but it will be enough.

She smells water, so bears south. Comes to a hill overlooking a creek painfully fast, thunderingly straight, cracks arms fingers knees and jaw. She has no tools, but her ship-forged teeth will do. She splits a trunk and hauls it to the creek. Old woman creek, she bucks against it, shoves hard at the ends, but she’s well-learned in this and it holds. She spits mud to pin it in place, and cycles back again.

Hours, days, weeks, months, years. She follows the creek to the river to the sea, digging and gnawing and recoursing. She gives birth once a year, to daughters who carry her grandchildren within them, leaves them behind to settle in, dig deeper, spread wider. Fish and birds trail in their wake.

It has been decades since ship spoke to her. She has forgotten the trick, but when that voice comes tolling in her ear, she knows it, leaves her work half-finished and unmourned. Turns north, past family, toward home.