Who’s The Mossy Skull?

Michael J. DeLuca in 2017Michael J. DeLuca lives in the rapidly suburbifying post-industrial woodlands north of Detroit with partner, kid, cats and microbes. He is the publisher of Reckoning, a journal of creative writing on environmental justice. His short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Apex, Mythic Delirium, and lots of other places. His novella, Night Roll, released by Stelliform Press in October 2020, was a finalist for the Crawford Award.

What’s The Mossy Skull?

The mossy skull in the photo I found on the west facade of the tzompantli platform at Chíchen Itzá in 2006; I imagine it doesn’t look like that anymore. The abstraction The Mossy Skull is something else. I’ve aspired to provide here an aggressive synthesis of angry environmentalism, gleeful pseudopagan spirituality and literary ambition, but I relax into something much quieter.

Why a mossy skull?

It stands for resurgence, resurrection, reincarnation, beauty from ugliness, idiocy from profundity, fecundity from decay. Nature is amoral; we, the only moral beings, spring from it. We apply our morality to nature, preserve or destroy nature at our whim, and at the end we go back to it, back to amorality and mud. And I’m happy with that. In fact I love it. If a rolling stone gathers no moss, I’m the kind of stone that plunks itself down in a field and lets moss grow, watches the moss grow, and refuses to get up or budge until it comprehends why moss grows, how it grows, and what it means. It’s a matter of perspective. Let the moss grow on my bones. I’m not in them, and though I am of them, I’m of the moss too.