In the Dust of Humanity

By Shelly Jones

When the dust storm swept over the land, suffocating the meager tides that burped along the coasts, the old ones wept. They brought in the botanists, who stared in silence at the blistering earth, their mouths too dry to say, “We warned you.” Then the old ones prayed to the water spirits who had once jettisoned along rivers, puckish glee swimming in their eyes. But they had all suffocated, hidden away in subterranean caves. In desperation, the old ones begged for the children’s forgiveness even as their old, dry bones settled into the dust, and from their tears a single green stalk emerged.

Shelly Jones (she/her/hers) is an Associate Professor at a small college in upstate NY, where she teaches classes on mythology, folklore, and writing.