(Dear Everyone: Below are the opening four sections of my novel REPORT THE EARTH)

Aira

Converging. Everyone converging. What you think is convergence may be something else. Everybody converging to drink from a spring. And when you leave the spring are you like water flowing out, disappearing, reaching out like an appendage? Springs. Sources. Everything a spring. Look at this desert. It is a spring in itself. It is appearing. It is born. But then I am born, too. And history is born. Converging. Making love. To converge is to be a spring. With sun and moon and stars and everyone who comes to drink it. Sometimes I go up to the reservoir on the mountain to use these gills. And they break out of my skin and it’s like Ahhhhhhh! So good! And down inside that mountain lake it’s like listening to Earth. The voice in the center. It’s like getting a report, a report on the state of this being we’re on, a report on myself. You can’t put it into words. We all were born from something.

Mira

Altarberry. That’s what he named himself, out of the blue. One day he just said My name is Altarberry as if that made him some type of bigshot, bigger than the rest of us. It’s strange—Altarberry is like the humans that were here in this place a long time ago. When the mountains were cities. When there were more people than plants. When what was beneath the plants shone in the sun. Metal. Glass. Things strangely symmetrical. I can see them in my dreams and when I look at the fabrics. So many people like Altarberry. Millions. Billions. But now I don’t know anybody like him. In fact, nobody’s really alike. Maybe a few. So maybe Altarberry doesn’t really stand out. There just used to be a lot of them. A lot of Altarberries. But back then in that era, humans didn’t look all that alike anyway. Just the same number of eyes (generally), the same number of feet, arms, things like that. Things that don’t mean anything.

Aira

That memory of choosing this life. I know the process I remember is not what really took place. It’s more like a translation. So much of it is constructed in reverse order from where I am now, from the perspective of this perception. The important thing is the choosing. That I know it was a choice. In a way, it sets you free. Not in all my lives, especially the human ones, do I remember I chose it. But then events, events after the choosing—are they lessons? That’s what you may think. I chose this life to learn freedom, to learn acceptance, to learn captivity, to learn pain, whatever, to learn to be aquatic, to learn to be on land, to learn androgyny—but it’s all more exciting than that. It’s all more personal than that. I know it. And by personal I mean it could never be defined as one lesson, or even multiple lessons. It’s all much vaster. Sometimes I think more than anything I chose Earth. And that these gills, these webs and scales, that grow when I touch the water—that grow into the water—they’re just part of the agreement, the collaboration. Like I chose Earth and then we got together and came up with this physiology, and beyond that it’s all improvisation. Reporting, experiencing, may have nothing to do with learning.

Mira

Of course, people talk to me. Inside. From other places. It’s hard to put into words. Altarberry says people only talk with words. Outloud. Which is a really weird belief he has cause almost everybody talks with their minds, like telepathically. They might makes sounds or movements or whatever but it’s usually just a small part of what’s happening from mind to mind. I talk back to the people from other places, too. I had to cut it down to just one inside voice mainly, although I do converse with other people at times inside. Unless I can see them—then that’s different, then we usually talk inside each other anyway. Otherwise it’s endless. There’s billions of voices to speak to that you can’t see just like there were billions of humans on Earth. And some people are boring. Some don’t have bodies even in other places. They’re not actually in other lives. Some who don’t have bodies think they know more than you do, or they try to make you believe it. But some of them are scared to have a body, like a body of their own. So I don’t talk to them. Sometimes I wonder about Altarberry, like maybe people talk to him and he doesn’t even know it. Like why the hell did he call himself Altarberry? Or maybe it’s just his History. His History’s talking to him. He thinks he’s smarter than me but I gotta be the one to figure it all out.