Loren Yelluas | Art by Anoushka Banerjee
“Join hands, everyone.” says Teacher. 20 linen-gloved little hands find one another and squeeze under a smiling blue sky patterned with tufts of white. Unobscured sun spills over the grassy platform, forcing the children to squint. “You have been in preparation for this day your entire lives,” She begins as the childrens’ shadows stir in the grass, “Very few children have had your resources and opportunities, your support. And many of the children who have, did not possess your devotion or dedication to The Academy. Through sacrifice, passion, and most importantly, faith in the good people that have worked tirelessly to bring you to where you are, you have completed your studies,” She pauses for effect, “You are ready.” Teacher smiles wide with her alabaster teeth, but keeps her eyes on the sky behind them.
She claps, and the children move on-cue into their practiced formation as She stands, hands still pressed against one another. Teacher’s teeth gleam at them as her gaze shifts from the vast blue emptiness before her to a passing marble-white cloud. She considers it for a moment, then returns to pretending not to hear the children mutter counts, “… four, five, six, seven, eight…” as they step carefully into two angled lines following the border of the platform. The lines meet at a point in the center, like an arrow or migration of geese. Above, the cloud is growing, joining up with the straggling whisps left behind by inattentive winds.
Teacher looks down at the grass where the head of the arrow stands. She thinks back decades to the inaugural class. Theys had not been granted real sky or sunlight or cliff. They had had a warehouse, and Teacher, before she was Teacher, had carried a heavy backpack filled with tarp that snatched her out of the jump before she could catch the wind. Teacher then landed 50 feet below and was greeted by an opportunity: to join the Academy and find salvation for the human race. To send Earth’s last hopes to the higher plane: To put children in the sky. The sky-ceiling of the warehouse had been painted just as blue then, but showed not a single cloud.
The children are still now. They look with glassy eyes from each other to the sky before them, weighing gravity against faith. Counting their breaths, they watch as the mass of white stretches further across the sky, thickening. They are in place.
She brings her hands apart and to the sky. Sun flashes between Her fingers, and She proclaims the words:
In feathered eyes
Of pious and perfunct
Your earnèd right,
The harrowed sight
Through clouds, a burning sun
Leave your hearth
And God’s Green Earth
In Palingenesis, take Flight
You twist through clouds, you’re upside down
The world keeps spinning, round and round
To live is above, and life is below
Gravity shifts and pulls you in tow
You’re falling! You’re flying! You’re drowning in air!
You’re plummeting upward, a sparrow ensnared
Behold the Sun
Rise, dance through blue
Pull over under, wrapped in you
a flash of light, the burning star
night is coming, earth is far
Heaving clouds encircle wind
White-to-grey; sunlight rescinds
a Break, a Thrash, a wetting squall
down your gullet thunder falls
Feathers pill; arms flap left right
The sky is dark, your head is light
wounded, winged, sliding down
and yet bellow you see no ground
Raindrops trail and disappear
upward, downward, all but here
Eyelids fill with the color of sky
white blades burn your shoulders wry