February 16, 2019

“Fertility: A Parable” by Mike Bendzela

A young gatherer became smitten with a hairy boy, one of the woods folk. Stumbling out of the woods, burrs and stick-tights adorning her hair and tunic, her arms laden with small white flowers, she declared to her sisters, “He is a god!”

But the girls would not hear of it. “She has her eye on an animal! What can we do?” They broke open tree stems and read them, and cast torn leaves into the wind, studying their scatter patterns.

One of the sisters suddenly smiled with an idea. She spent days tracking the boy, just as her sister would. When she saw him squatting near a stream, she made a mental note of it and returned to the place later in the day. There she found what she was looking for, scooped it into a small basket with a stick, and took it to her sisters to inspect.

They howled in delight. “This will teach her he is no god!”

Next time the girl showed up, disheveled with lust, the sisters presented the basket to her, saying, “Look what your hairy boyfriend left in the woods for you! Some god!”

She took the basket, uncovered it, and stared into it with one eye closed. “Thank you,” she said, closing the basket and tucking it into her tunic. “With this will I fertilize the flower of my love.”


About the Author: Mike Bendzela published short fiction in the 1990s in North American Review, Chicago Review, Pushcart Prize XVIII, and Christopher Street. Stories also appeared in the anthologies Men On Men 7 and Contra/Diction. He took a hiatus for 15 years to devote time to farming, volunteer EMT work and old-time music. More recently, his essays and fiction have been accepted at Stonecoast Review and Ilanot Review. His novella “February” will be published by Running Wild Press in 2020. “Fertility” is from a unpublished collection of Darwinian fables and parables called “Metazoan Variations.” He now teaches at the University of Southern Maine and lives with his husband on a small orchard and farm.

Mike Bendzela Author Photo

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