Forensic Geology

"It's an autopsy report on our country," I told my husband when he asked, but I didn't show him my files.

I can't, because the military classified the project and then closed it down, which is why I'm committing a crime by doing this at home.

I can't, because he already has his own nightmares, and he doesn't need to see maps pockmarked by hidden mass graves like a nightmarish rhizome, fertile fields turned to dust plains framing the shells of abandoned towns, camps turned into cities, cities turned into camps.

And I can't because most of it has yet to happen, a near-future as real in my data as a not-yet-here asteroid, it's arrival assured by the imperturbable inertia of atmospheric physics and virulent authoritarianism feeding off its own crimes.

I can't tell any of this to him because it's something to be heard later, after, not a word between the living but a message from beyond and before, from us who know ourselves ghosts to our murderers' children, should they survive. Do I want them to? I truly don't know. I can only record, in maps and models and data I will both hide and leak, and certainly not outlive, that we knew what was happening. I don't know what else there is to say, or to whom.

What I could tell my husband is that we — I — will have no children, ever. The graves will be filled well enough, and I have no wish to help.

I could tell him that, but he has never suggested we should. Perhaps something in his blood has made the same calculations, and in the cartography of his nightmares, about which he has never said a word, there's a map not unlike my own.