lent- excerpted from postscripts (forthcoming) – [x]
September 16, 2023
I considered giving up suicide for Lent but I won’t do anything that Christ didn’t.
There should be days that make us muted. Holy days, truly. Days that cowl us, overwhelm. Days where a conjunction of season, and very rarely calendar, conspire to demand more from us than the day before or after. I like the idea of Eves, though of course I would. They’re a warning. An anticipation of the bloodletting we so rarely perform.
I have my own liturgical massacres to attend to.
Those holy days of mine are as meaningless as names are, they’re things I don’t relinquish because they seem understandable when they’ve been stripped down to the categorical. But because I won’t render them up they remain mine, and I can slip through the hours clothed in unseen vestments, marking the passage of things that only matter to the faithful, or whatever I’m calling myself at the moment.
‘But because I won’t render them up they remain mine’; this is all I’ve had, and so this is what I’m giving up.
There are days that I don’t know until they’ve arrived, usually in the fall but sometimes in the spring and sometimes gloriously in the summer (and once, only once, in winter), but once they’ve arrived they’re that day and they’re mine, when the wind presses up against being almost too much, fierce and whole, and when I was a child the wind was always from the south, the wind would carry warmth that wasn’t mine across the bay and through the spruce and birch and cedars and they’d roar in answer, the wind would shudder against the isle and all it lacked was a spark to make a holocaust because oh it was sweet and wild, and I learned to dance for that movement, for the air that sang past itself, and these days are holy because they’re gifts and I claim them, even if they’re not mine to hold.
But I have a holy day that’s mine, that’s for my namesake, sort of, because I won’t do anything that Christ won’t, so I’ve made a garden of that night and I keep a vigil that’s as empty as I am, I let my nails grow long, I make claws of myself and for this night, this one, I make an altar of the record player (moreso than usual) and I drink Chartreuse in place of the Blood (moreso than usual) and I won’t relinquish those hours because they’re untranslatable even if I could convey the way the night hallows itself, it knows a suicide when it sees one, and if I ever sing again it’ll be that night but I don’t know, I don’t.
‘…we are not made for life,’ Gourmont said, and I believe him.
I believe in ritual because it’s playing pretend, it’s an affectation of the highest order because it elevates this dolor into worship and I believe in it because it’s desperately fragile and desperately unrelenting and yes I’m well aware of what I’m admitting but these rituals are how I make it through the hours and I don’t see any reason to abandon them just because I don’t intend to live.
There are a thousand intricacies and they mean even less than the less I’ve used to measure this but at this point I wonder if it’s selfishness or reverence that makes me want to keep things close, to leave these numerologies redacted, the compass arcs, the word counts, the mile-markings or the recognition that there’s no value to them, not to this letter, and not to the author of it without submitting to a premise that I don’t know if I can manage to pretend at, and haven’t.
I remember once someone expressing frustration when I maintained that I shouldn’t have to perform an emotional response to their satisfaction to have it be acknowledged, that it should suffice to communicate that I was distressed without wailing and beating my breast, and their rebuttal was to repeatedly ask how they could know, if I didn’t: my words were insufficient. But I know now and knew then that the second there’s tears they’re the only thing that’ll be acknowledged, the whole of the discussion now hinged around a physiological malfunction and I’d rather fucking speak and be deliberate than be executed by a categorical that’s easier for them, that’s always easier for them, than the words are. It absolves them from engaging with the substance. It’s another game of real that they think they’ve won because over and over helplessness is their only measure of what’s genuine. See above.
That idea of performance makes me wonder at my rituals, if they’re a means of insulating against the ineffable, or if they allow me to ward myself against the world I’ve had to abhor, my orthodoxy a sanctuary that’s unassailable, or at the very least obscured. They certainly underline my flirtations with Donatism.
If we’re going to play pretend and I have to then let’s play serious, let’s inflict this new stigmata on new flesh, let’s make up everything and mean every word of it, let’s drown without reserve, let’s shudder and carve the hours into a now that resonates beyond its before and after, let’s devote ourselves to the terrible and the wondrous, let’s demand holiness from every gesture, let’s shatter and impale in our perfection, let’s raze heaven or at least our understanding of it, let’s be furious and gentle while we can, while we’re still allowed this, while we have the hum and something like oxygen between us.
It won’t be long, now.