An Autistic Man Lived on Frogs and Roots as He Wandered
for Weeks in the Remote Escalante Desert of Southern Utah
Until Being Rescued, Emaciated but Alive.

Irene Hsiao

I have determined to embark upon a voyage.
The ballast in my bag consists of an assortment of caps, barrels, and stains.
No matter. I will proceed by fingernail.
I will make up for losses by inventing a code.
For instance, if I inscribe a line, what I mean is time has subtracted me.
If it wavers, I wish to convey that my absence is less determinate than my presence.
If crosses are appended, I am requesting your blindness on the matter
while also affixing upon it an emblem.
Note the additional nuance imbued by the ratio of the angle between
the third and fourth fingers to the dominant key of the hymn to the
rising sign recorded on the date and hour of your birth.
It has not yet become evident to me whether I am journeying from or to.
This puncture means the road's length is corrugated by memory.
If I use the soft part of my finger to tap please understand that my
teeth may be sliding over the kelplike epidermis of a frog.
Starvation indicates I will not scoff at bones, eyes, or the
gelatinous substance of the joints.
Starvation dictates that I will find these rather wholesome.
I relish most the tail.
It is symbolized by this radix I have unearthed.
Amphi, meaning on both sides.
Bilateral symmetry does me no favors as I contemplate my kinship with various arthropods.
How they scuttle.
Though it is enjoyed cold, I recall that a frog may be boiled alive
without suffering if the temperature of the water is raised sedulously
degree by degree with adequate time allotted for the ectothermic creature to acclimate.
This jag implies I am considering the moral implications of poikilothermy.
Whether hardship were better endured in the long night of aestivation.
Whether blinking up after a nine or ten month nap would have altered
the terrain in my favor.
Whether enough REM cycles could twist up your trace in a neat bobbin
to rethread my machine and treadle out a dirndl.
These lines are wearing down my grip.
I have read that maintaining the fortitude to do nothing under such
strenuous conditions requires a vast archive of genetic material.
In other words, that to warm and cool with the mercury conceals a lapidary protocol.
This fray means that I am pondering the net mass of my array of
nucleic acids in the wake of my ejection from homeothermic complacency.
Unfortunately the strain of these calculations has done little to dilute the indelible.
I have heard that the effect may be potentiated by barbiturates, ethanol, or chloral hydrate.
Additionally behaviors such as rapidly vibrating the flight muscles,
purposively angling the iridescence of the wing towards or away from
the sun, or condescending to huddle may mitigate some of the effects
more heroically than retracting into a hibernaculum.
This process has been scientifically recognized as sitting and
waiting, though it had long been a familiar strategy for those
indigenous to the region.
I annotate this observation with a half moon.
I should soon begin to benefit from the layer of hallucinogens condensing on my skin.
Though altered somewhat, I recognize your face in every flashing contour.
Our ability to recognize faces, once necessary for survival in tribal
civilizations, might now have become vestigial or in fact have become
a trait that threatens our evolutionary fitness, much as sighted moles
develop debilitating conjunctivitis.
This slash tells you I am cursing the burden of my inheritance.
Having no lower teeth, my defense relies on your revulsion.
Having no claws, my constancy depends on a favorable coefficient of friction.
Had I been wiser, I would have keratinized.
That one could, under such inhospitable circumstances, survive is
inconceivable to the average citizen.
This is because he envisions survival as resistance.
The average citizen would not discard the metabolic hunger of the cerebral cortex.
The average citizen would not allow his circulation to crackle down to cold, hard glass.
Diminished, the famine is slower.
Stolid at the pond bottom I abide in an armor of mud.
Marking this with dribs and jabs is consistent with a continuous
apperception of time but counter to the discrete nature of narrative.
Left this map, restoration becomes the work of platelets and fibroblasts.
This is a clinical way of disguising the juice of the wound with a
roughened copy of the original.
Such antiquated methods are only scratchings on a cankered edifice.
What I need is this.
It's not the heart but a speck of the gut that revives
Wormed into an enucleated core.
It's not the freeze but the thaw that aches
Suspended between salts in a nutrient brew
To double the disposition but not the history
To start again with the same material
To chance another meeting.