is this happiness?

This is the place.

It breathes, it eats, and, at night, beneath a crawling ground fog with the luster of vaporized pearl, it dreams, dreams while tiny predators stage a nightmare ballet in sharp black grass. It is a living thing it has a soul, it has a face.

At night you can almost see it.

At night you can almost imagine what it might look like if the swamp were boiled down to its essence, and distilled into corporeal form; if all the muck, all the forgotten muskrat bones, and all the luscious decay would rise up and wade on two legs through the shallows; if the swamp had a spirit and that spirit walked like a man…

At night, you can almost imagine.

You can stare into those places where the evening has pooled beneath the distant trees, and glimpse an ambiguous shifting of the darkness, something large, large and slow, its movements solemn and inevitable, heavy with clotted, sodden weed that forms its flesh, its skeleton of tortured root creaks with each funereal pace, protesting at the damp and sullen weight, within their sockets its eyes float like blood-poppies in puddles of ink.

You can inhale through flared nostrils, drinking in its musk, green and pungent, there is the delicate scent of mosses and lichens adorning its flanks, there is the dry and acrid aftertaste of the pinmold that spreads across its shoulders, fanning out in a dull gray rash.

You can stand alone in the blind darkness and know that were you to raise your arm, reaching out to its full extremity, your fingernails would brush with something wet, something supple and resilient, something moving.

You shouldn’t have come here.

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