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Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax
{tether}
  phillips spotswood


Inhale. Hold it in.
You are a fish, breathing in the ocean-air of your motherís womb. You are a fetus, gripping to the umbilical cord like an astronaut outside of his life-ship. You are blind and ambiguous, you are androgynous as Tiresias. You are blind and swimming in the pitch-black of ocean floor or deep space. What will the exterior world be like? The world outside of this close embrace.

Exhale. Relax your body.
Your tiny muscles require vast amounts of nutrients. As an astronaut, you allow your body to float, drift, and drink in starlight. You give yourself over to the ebb and flow of tide, no-gravity. Breathing comes naturally, regularly, now. Focusing on the total silence of this space, you are able to feel (hearing is non-existent now) the pull and suck of blood, urging your body and mind to grow, expand. Just when you think you have conquered death, you feel a great tug from your center and some enormous surge at your back. You cry out in alarm as your space begins to push you along the crest of a wave, out out and away from your life-ship, birth-womb. You choke on the very air that once supported you. You feel betrayed, and vow to never immerse yourself again in deep water, zero-gravity.

Inhale. Sharply.
The air around you is too thin, and your lungs are on fire. You have been thrust into the atmosphere of some strange planet with multiple suns and they are searing your flesh. There is a thin membrane, you think, over your eyes, for there are vague and gargantuan shapes that occasionally block out the sunsí glare. You wish you were blind. You wish you could pull yourself back into familiar orbit and away from this hostile environment of jarring noise and light.

Exhale.
Try to calm yourself. Grow tired of thrashing your limbs. Decide to save your energy for inward movement. Realize the helplessness of your external body in this new world, so instead turn inward and focus on gathering your resources, tools for survival.

Reach for warmth.
Outside of the glare of multiple suns your body experiences tremendous cold and you wonder if maybe, this, is death. Remember that you have a vendetta to uphold, though, so allow warm hands to swaddle you and hold you close to what must be some mother-ship heat-source.

Sleep.
It is your safest bet right now. Inside the darkness you are reminded of the space you drifted from. Try and ignore the crooning noises that exist just beyond the perimeters of your dreamscape, yet feel your awareness slowly and grudgingly being pulled towards them. Grind and gnash your teeth (your gums).

See.
What you thought was a film over your eyes is probably a film across your mind, you think, for the shapes in the waking air remain amorphous and shifting. Begin to understand that you have been presented with a foreign language both verbal and physical. Become determined (as a lover of knowledge) to learn and master this tongue.

Repeat.
For years you cycle your time (recently constructed) around sleeping and seeing. Gathering nutrients and information comes naturally, effortlessly. Progressively learn to differentiate shapes. Tell positives from negatives. Learn the rules of your new system, and where its axis lies.

Break.
Manipulate your bones for the first time, bend them to your will. Thrash against the side of the bathtub for it is a container of negatives. Stomp your feet (newly discovered) in the puddle beneath the sink, and see in ecstasy the water droplets rent and scatter from their orbit just like you, once. Adopt the foreign-turned-parent tongue for your own, and adjust its pitch to your benefit. Shape your mouth in odd distortions and push, watch as words (understandable, relatable) spiral outward into comprehensive forms that affect others.

Thrive.
Allow your mind to establish itself and drift, soak in all knowledge without filter like you once did in a hardly-remembered orbit. Witness the rapid expansion of your self and marvel at the potential of this planet and its discordances. Avoid relating self to a plant soaking in water. Instead, liken self to a star-child that lives off the heat of a bright sun and devours all energy in its orbit.

Repeat.
The remainder of your development, stint in this system, is spent oscillating between thriving and breaking from said system. The more you learn of its rules and where positives and negatives truly lie, the stronger and more volatile your breaks, rifts. Read Kate Chopinís The Awakening. Loathe Edna Pontellier. Secretly wish you shared her fate, and hate yourself for allowing this secret. Move to Egypt, where you hear it only rains 51 mm/year.

Shrivel.
Notice wrinkles on your skin. Feel your mind drifting away from its establishment, its axis in this planet you now call home. Feel the familiar tug of being pulled out of orbit once again. Remember the betrayal you experienced outside of this system your home. Become desperately afraid.

Inhale. Thinly.
Lose your grip of air, atmosphere. Listen as the pulse of your heart slows and fails to pump warmth throughout your body. Re-experience the chill you felt when taken out from under the multiple and artificial suns, and curse the real sun for failing to penetrate your cold marrow. Come face to face with ultimate betrayal.

Exhale. Furiously.
In your final push, seek to kick off and thrust (space-man jet-pack) from this cold rock. Spit your teeth into the water that has left your body as grief. Understand the same hated water that you sought to avoid is the very essence that gave you life, form. Leave your carcass on the dry planet as a cicada husk in the desert.

Drift.
Search for a new cord to attach to, mother-ship or planet-root. Understand the tragedies of love, and promise yourself to do better next time.