Amelia Martens The 3 Properties of Wool

1. Warm, even when wet.

A sheep falls into a well. We’ll call the bottom, Earth. She wonders how the sky became a circle; how the sunshine makes the stone walls perpendicular and the ocean breeze a list of days to come. The first winter is always harsh. The sheep learns to lean against herself, learns to make a soft armor for the wind to chew. There is morning and there is evening. One rainy eon passes and the sheep shapes herself into a cloud for camouflage. Soon Earth rises and is swallowed by the sky. Machines swim between the stars. The sheep hibernates inside her skull, which warms on the ocean floor, which becomes an eventual desert. Everything is released by a woman painting extra large flowers while the sun carves crowfeet by the hour.

2. Fire retardant.

There is always a cow to blame. Or a cigarette butt or social outcast. Someone who might fail a magazine quiz and turn out to be a psychopath. Given enough time and a suitcase full of dynamite, the best of us would blow up the train. The caboose, a red tail feather. The caboose, the setting sun. The caboose, our own loose ends catching fire and capable of burning through the night. In certain places all across the earth, fire is as common as fog. In certain places, all across the earth, people insist on building houses made of toothpicks. A furnace can grow naturally in the right conditions. A pasture can be a postcard from the future, a train coming around the burn.

3. Self-cleaning.

Without insects the interstate highway system would hum like an empty oil drum. Our bones don’t clean themselves. We spread flour across the counter and roll the pin across the powder of crickets. The way women donate their bodies to science, to populating the earth. Make an eye. Make an ear; there is a bone missing from the Men at Work; they spread the powdered asphalt with shovels tipped in black. Their necks articulate beneath the sun and a thousand fireflies nap on cattails beneath the overpass.

Back to 51.1