Human Lag - Believer Magazine
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Human Lag

by Mark Irwin
Illustration by Lys Bui

Human Lag

Mark Irwin
15 Snaps

Mother told me I was born in a dark cabin surrounded by pines 

so thick that all day it seemed like evening. Mother said that my

bearded father could not speak and that of his face only the eyes,

nose, and mouth were visible among a lingering scent of creek bed 

moss. Mother told me that when I cried as an infant she would take me 

into the barn where only the lowing of cows and neighing of horses 

would quiet me, but once I saw mother ax off a chicken’s head  

on a stump and that chicken pulled a red string twice around that cabin’s grass,  

a string I knew led into our own bodies, a string I would later 

use to pull Mom & Dad around in old age, their human lag.




This poem is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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