Acrylic on paper, 12” x 9”
Long ago, animals roamed together amid wild fruits and flowers; the llamas and bears, bats and hares walked free. Walked, yes, under pistachio and lemon trees, amid overstories of pomegranates and peaches. While the tides swept ashore and reefs winked at the moon, creatures of the woodlands roamed free. Even kangaroos and bullfrogs walked together, until there came a great change in the firmament and world.
First quaver and quake, then stutter and shake, and the earth roiled, and the moon glowered, and the turf drifted underfoot. Yes, the turf came unmoored and weighed anchor. The earth turned to a ship’s deck, a bed spring, an earth trampoline. And the crickets laughed and grew dizzy, and the bats became seasick. Not the flying bats, but the walkers. All animals, remember, were walkers back then. They grew dizzy and seasick keeping balance, and they laughed, yes, until? Until a day when young Lulu Kangaroo stood laughing in the peach woods. Perfect and delicious, thought Lulu. But the peaches were high, out of reach. They were too high until? Lulu JUMPED on the bedspring, on the earth trampoline. She jumped once and again, again and still again. A n d L u l u r e a c h e d f o r a p e a c h. And it was perfect and delicious. “No,” said the kangaroo walkers. “You never jumped that high. Never pulled down a peach.” The frogs didn’t believe Lulu either.
But she showed them. Afterward, and until the world changed again, the animals switched. Switched, yes, from walking to jumping. Not all, because the bats preferred flying and the bears hated peaches. But almost all animals JUMPED on the trampoline earth. All, for a time, laughed and grew seasick, until the firmament and world changed back to itself, until the turf underfoot re-tethered and grew still. Yet, the crickets kept jumping, and the bullfrogs—who else? Lulu and her grandchildren and her grandchildren’s grandchildren. The kangaroos kept jumping—until?
Until now. Now the firmament and world are changing again. The stone fruits are bursting, and the chorals are bleaching, and the oceans and earth are near heartbreak. The tears of the moon are swelling the tides, and Lulu’s granddaughters are in flight in the woodlands. The kangaroos, fleeing fire, are calling us to be creatures. Yes, creatures together under the firmament. Lulu’s granddaughters’s granddaughters’s granddaughters, yes.
James Latimer is an author-illustrator who writes and draws for children and young adults. His work has or will soon appear in The Closed Eye Open, Forbidden Peak Press, Iris Literary Journal, Burningword Literary Journal, Heirlock Magazine, and Showbear Family Circus. Also at Las Laguna Gallery and Poster House NYC. Additional credits on Instagram @latimer.jim.