a lesson about swamps for tables in 35 parts

For early me and for early druids swamps were a place where the world of flesh and meat touched the world of the imaginary and of the spirit. Druids pitched human sacrifices into swamps, hoping to shunt them into the afterlife. I attacked swamp grass with sticks, reveling in the stench, and occasionally sacrificed a sneaker by falling into the fetid water.
Most druids probably didn't realize that swamps aren't some infinite otherworld portal and that they have a bottom just like every other volumetric thing on this planet. As a kid I presumed the swamp to have a bottom, but made the mistake of thinking it was temporally infinite. It was a place I thought I could always retreat to. I didn't like to get in trouble as a kid and I rarely broke rules but I did violate the no going to the swamp alone rule when I was very small. I had to go to know it would always be there.
Rome, plague, christianity, and the false progress of the world killed the druids. My family didn't own the swamp or any land outside of our precious acre. I got to roam the woods purely because they were, for years, worth nothing to their owner. I still have no idea who actually owned all that land, but growing up it was mine to be lost in. When the land developers came, I didn't know what to do.
Druids, weren't super into romans. They rebelled and killed and were killed. Mostly they were killed. I could barely handle bullies at school let alone the giant construction equipment that came to tear up the swamp. Anger made me cry. Alone in the woods I expressed my rage silently by pissing on bulldozers and smudging them with mud. I stole every land for sale sign and, at night, under the stars, I pitched each one bented and broken into the swamp. It was a fitting end: I dreamt of those signs floating into the bog æther to be ripped apart by bog people waiting just on the other side of reality.
I doubt anyone noticed my shitty ruckus. The for sale signs returned relentlessly. Machines dug pits and the swamp was drained. I got older and went to college. I lost track of who I had been in the woods. The woods became a place to hide from campus security and drink.
They didn't just take the swamp. Most of the woods I walked in were laid bare to make room for a house or two. Turned out, of course, swampland is terrible to build on. It took years for a single house to be finished and even longer for someone to buy it. Now when I visit home I always walk by the east end of the swamp where it touches a road. It's hardly a few puddles, now. Beyond it I can see the earth exposed and naked: in winter, dead grass is all it has to cover itself. It is a goulish thing to be able to see the curvature of the ground I used to wander when it was covered in leaves and brambles and a dense city of trees. To see it like that feels like a forbidden thing. It's like a corpse embalmed but never dressed, lying unfinished in a coffin. I never wanted to know the woods' secrets. I never wanted to see them exposed.
Imagine if you could convince a druid that every swamp was finite and terminally mortal and that no matter what riches they bedecked their throat-slitted sacrifices in, the swamp was just a lazy open faced tomb. What would it do to their cosmology? Internally we feel infinite. Temporally we may be aware of death, but when we look inside there is no limit to the void. There's no bottom in sight to the well that emits our melancholy, our joy, our fury. Injury and blood are terrifying. They remind us that we are swamps waiting to be drained. We are volumetric, finite solids.


was taken

from me

as it was taken from the druids and the stars and all of us.