Self-Saints of Becoming – Vanessa Aricco

“It’s not like he got accepted into Harvard,” my father said after I notified my family via email of the rehab facility my boyfriend’s grandmother agreed to pay for. I didn’t even know to be ashamed at the time. I loved without thought.

Forgive me father for I have sinned. I resurrected the dead. I wished for his death.

He took the knife to her throat. Needle in his groin. Never injected enough to stop himself.

He threw a punch. We flew a kite. I held my breath in the waiting room while we waited for his to return.

Summer’s hard because that’s when it happened. I should’ve let him drown but that’s not my decision to make. It wasn’t a pleasant goodbye. Even when I tried not to see him, I still ended up there outside those prison walls and I waved to tell him I kept my promise but I’d be moving on.

I wake to the laments of a man’s life. I did not run from it nor try to fill it up. I sat still in a way I hadn’t been able to. In my mind. I took it all in. I took no action. I was getting baked in the process of the sun.

I heard about a dance of the gods constructing and deconstructing. Shifting the universe. How to enter a place and how to leave. I tore the seam of my reality.

I began doing nightly surgery on my brain. To ensure its openness for the passage. No longer through the birth canal. I use a current of love to pierce the mind. I start to burrow in the temple.

I entered the house knowing he had a gun with confidence it wasn’t for me. A confidence I shouldn’t have had. This was his routine. His dramatic exit for not getting his way.

I mean who loves the opiate addict and not the opiate? I preferred torture to comfort or oblivion.

How does one detach holy. Invert holy. Reform holy.

I’d been trying to avoid some kind of fate, but it found me. I’ve been trying to figure out how to be a new kind of nun. A different way to sainthood. I traded my panties in for veneration. Changed my name to confuse the angels.

Wound confusion. Going off script. Is an evil opportunity just a mistake. Are we destroying the afterlife? The capacity of evil in us all. Galactic or nothing. Madness is a scar in the brain.

I don’t recall when it appeared. I know it wasn’t with me from birth. I asked a doctor if a birthmark can appear after you’re born. It’s the shape of the letter Y in the Y of my pelvis. Freckled and a few shades darker than my skin on the right side of my panty line below my hip bone above the crease.

Voglie means birthmark in Italian. Translates to wishes, caused by an unsatisfied wish of the mother during pregnancy. Maybe even the site of a traumatic injury in a past life. My grandmother, my father’s mother, told my mother it was because she didn’t give the baby coffee.

The blue veins in my hand are starting to look like my moms. I’m comforted as I look down at them. Feels good to carry around something familiar. To recognize myself.

He was running out of options. Started shooting up in the vein on the top of his hand. He would burn the spot on the oven at work to try to cover it up. But I knew. The small gesture of respect.

Hail Mary. Patron Saint of Heroin Addicts. Who nursed none of them back to health. I’m no Mother Teresa. Or was I? If she left them to suffer. Didn’t you see the bomb across his chest. Blazing like the sacred heart. His body explosive.

Vertigo negotiating the nightmare.

Can you love a monster? One that holds you down swears if you move you’ll die. How do you end up finding these monsters? Do they find you? Who says the monster’s not me? What were we hoping for? What sweet light did I try to ignite by the bedside of a suicidal maniac? A one-two punch on the side of the head while driving down the highway. Watching a gray body blend into a stranger’s couch. The police assured me he wasn’t worth it. Was I trying to get his monster to kill my monster? What turned me on? Who really made those decisions? I wonder what’s wrong with me. Wonder if I’m even really alive. Did I survive that night or the one on Front Street? The casualness of violence. Was I dumped in some green pasture?

He sent playlists from prison. A song title on top of every letter to be listened to while I read. He never mentioned the trial. I said we should’ve been great friends instead of bad lovers. He said where’s your loyalty?

I told him of a dream I had: I read your cry for help last night. Cut from the center of my womb my navel removed. An empty hole remains where life once was given. You were after me but it was her, left alone with a bleeding throat. As your lifeless eyes watched you choked me with a smile.