In the north, they eat golden ammonia fish, black creosote eels, and mercurial prawns. Clouds are chimercal; water and stone is chemical. They sleep on gravel, and bandage their own wounds. They mine the endless snow and rain, and sometimes summer butterflies. They smoke their straw. In the northern seas, the oarsmen tell the tale of the scrawny mackerel. The mackerel lost its friends and family at a young age, and found it difficult to survive in the black waters. It went to a distant shore and met a marlin. It asked the marlin some questions about sea life. The marlin explained that the world was always eating itself. One had to beware of lying flora and destructive minerals. One was forever caught between the two. The marlin began to talk and to talk, weaving tale after tale to illustrate his points until the mackerel fell asleep. Suddenly the marlin swallowed it whole. Inside the belly of the marlin, the scrawny mackerel woke up in a dark, rosy twilight of brine and acid. It was not the end though. It would have to eat its way out of the eating.
The hunter saw her pale body drifting like smoke through the dark woods. She was far more beautiful than moonlight or snowflakes. To capture one was nearly impossible, buf if one did, there were untold surprises and rewards, as the old legends reported. It had been some centuries since one had been captured. Quietly, the hunter moved among the blue and black shapes of the spruce, among the silver and gold of the birch. She was leaning down to drink from a partially frozen stream when he threw the halter around her. Though the blue-green eyes were startled, she made no sound or protest. Instead she bared her midriff and beckoned to him, speaking softly in her ancient language. It only took a few minutes to learn the ancient words, for they lie dormant in the minds of most men. Bewildered and enchanted, the hunter immediately removed the halter, and asked her if it was indeed allowed. She nodded in assent, a gentle and inviting smile on her lips. She whispered that he would require no blade. And so the hunter knelt down beside her, and dipped his fingers into the pale skin of her abdomen. She moaned or sighed. Gelatinous streams of lapis lazuli poured out, and his fingertips quickly found the brilliant gems. He ate them carefully, watching her watch him. The gems tasted sweet like cold, fresh cream. When he thanked her, she said there was more, and pushed his head back down so that he could gulp more of the liquid sapphire and eat the pomegranate-colored gems. Afterwards, the skin closed over the wound as if it had never opened, and she rinsed herself in the stream. The hunter felt like a completely other being, euphoric and slightly afraid, but throbbing with energy, his body electrified. Lost in his trance, he barely noticed her lay him down to take her turn and discover the gems of his abdomen. Staring into the rising stars, he felt nothing but the slow leaking away of his life. She had no legends, or did not remember them. She was not aware that he had no gems, and would later be sad and puzzled by the wound that would not close and the lifeless eyes icing over.
Once upon time, there was a lioness who was most skilled at cuisine, and loved to offer herself as a rich banquet she would prepare most carefully for others. It was well known in that land and at that time that the corpse of a lioness was forever the most delicious feast to be had. The lioness was puzzled and distressed, however, because it was difficult to understand the hunger of others, for she did not seem to have the same hunger. Whenever she held a banquet, there would be different kinds of eaters. Some would devour the body completely and suck the bones, filled but not afraid to dream of the next banquet. The blood and sinews of the lion were good for life–one could neither grow lean nor fat on them, no matter how much or how often one ate of them. One only got healthier from such repasts. Others would pick at the food and complain of its herbs, spices and even how the flesh was cut and plated. Some would eat, but loudly complained that her meat did not taste like roasted heifer, camel, gazelle, reindeer, pork, goat, fish or even vegetables, and they wished to eat such things while eating her without tasting or smelling too much of her. Still others would only eat blood, or sinews, or one organ, or just the skin, holding other body parts in contempt. Some wanted a sumptuous, elaborate commentary and ritual performed with the meal–it seemed tasteless without it. Some wanted to devour all of the meal, but seemed confused what to eat first or last; they wanted to consume her all at once, especially the heart and lungs, and would demand more heart and lungs. Sadly, the lioness only had one heart to give and one pair of lungs at a time. While these last eaters would get some nourishment, they found themselves unhappily hungry, wishing the lioness would give them an endless heart to suck on for hours at a time without interruption. On occasions when the lioness attempted to offer a bigger heart, the eaters felt cheated and suspected that the gift was given begrudgingly and still in too small a portion. They would turn to offal and eat it in a most vulgar fashion, or even beg the lioness to eat them, so that they would not have to chase after deer and so that they would never feel this painful hunger again. It is difficult to eat and to be eaten, and beyond the colonnades and arches, there are certain qualities of light and shadow in the hippodrome, the circus and the arena that are unfathomable and impossible to stomach.