Whether it is kept, or whether it is false, a promise must be made. It is so important to say something to the one who seeks comfort. So, say that you will stay forever, even if you plan to depart tomorrow. Say that you will love them for all eternity, even when another’s scent lingers on your skin. Love makes starving infants out of us. It is enough that we are naked; must we also be made to hold our aching bellies?
This is it, kids. Grab hold of the dog, and listen up. Know that I am still queen of the underworld. Ignore that I have climbed to the top of the mountain several times, only to be told it was a hill. What is important, is that I made the attempt under the impression I was conquering dangerous terrain. Ignore that I killed Hades, only to be told it was the doorman. I struck with determination and conviction.
The hellhound is not coming back. He has told me this in dreams, in that same language I know so well. He says it is time to be well-formed, and fill my height to the top. My cursive is bad, and my confidence is worse. I have fallen off the highest wall, so I know the pain of breaking every bone. It is not fair to say I fear pain, only that I seek to avoid it. Running and hiding are not crimes, but it is not wise to make a job out of this. I soak in what I think I must, flatten out my feet, and speak with authority. I take the sticky children‘s hands, tell the new dog he is a good boy, and I march forward.
My therapist takes notes, but they are not to detail what I have told her. Every statement I make, leads to a revelation about another patient. At the end of each session, there is a small stack of papers for me to take home. I fill them out immediately, giving little thought to the questions. I answer what I think is most appropriate. We go through the worksheets together, neither one of us really caring for the process. She is incompetent, and I am apathetic.
I am hosting another of the dictator’s relatives. He has heard much about me. I say it hardly applies anymore. I mention that the hellhound has passed away. He looks down, promising to be a gentle guest. He is a man of his word. The discomfort is bearable, but he has taken my voice. No harm done.
The only thing one can say to most people who are a part of their past is, you were not that great. Really, oh really, this should come as a shock to no one at all. We leave those we felt unworthy of, or those we felt were unworthy of us.
Since the hellhound was taken away from me, I have come to understand the necessity and value of dependence. I listened to a man speak of an oxcart. He said it is easier to push one, than it is to think about it. I agreed, without fully grasping what he meant then, or now. What I did comprehend, was enough for me to feel satisfied with his teachings. Then, I thought about getting an oxcart, but I wouldn’t know where to buy one.
I will always need something, even when I have an abundance of what I demand. This is how I came into the world. A slight bruise on the brain, caused by mother’s sharp ribs. I long for it all. I guard what I have, and yearn for what I do not. There is a part of me forever aching at the hands of melancholia, debilitated by calling out to what will not respond.
I no longer hide behind ten glasses of wine. My skirts have all been lengthened. I do not believe the answers are found in the words of a man. My mother’s eyes are no longer a glowing red. My father’s power was taken by the thunderstorm. I can see how far I’ve come, just as I see how far I need to go.
Defiant, like the accused, guarding an official plea. Read by the hearth in peace, just before your husband’s simple tongue betrays you. Hide a contract made in the presence of learned men, or they will suspect your signature bound you to the Dark Prince. Shoot a dog to appease a resounding paranoia. Close off the borders to any that would question strange motives. No one will come to see the ergot, the epileptic seizure, the need for attention, for what it truly is. Children will perish, but we can make more. Women cannot be trusted; they are convincing enough to tempt the God-fearing zealot.
If you want to find the man to blame, look for the one who smiles amid the rubble. Hold nothing against him, as it is more intelligent to make him an ally. He knows what to expect for years to come, simply by glimpsing at the western cloud formations, during January’s solemnities. There is always food for the hungry. Eat the bitter thing, covered in maggots. One cannot always afford to be selective.
It rains ashes in Massachusetts. Abigail hides her moan in the wind. And each snow flake that descends from its sky, has the blood of Tituba’s false confession. It is not difficult to see that we are the apple, and we are the worm. We are the word, and the flame that will consume all traces of the temporary wisdom that invented it.
I am drawing the curtains open, I swear. There are still a few images in the distance that inspire warmth. I will frame them with lace, never moving my gaze away. We will fetch a pail of water together, and tend to the thirsty daffodils. The comfort inside is inaudible, but that means nothing. It cannot be that every single thing has to produce noise.
I am catching my breath, I swear. I rest on four-leaf clovers. There is a young girl seeking one, and the words on my tongue can make her happy. I am not that nice yet. She has a large pocket where it would be placed, if only I would stand up. This cruelty makes me feel powerful. My shovel digs graves, where I kick in small hope. My smile is worth her disappointment.
I am saying my prayers, I swear. Oh father, oh son. If you are not doing anything with your nails, I will need them to hang my frames. And, is it true Lucifer likes it down on Hollywood Blvd., or does he find the desperation suffocating? Anyway, anyhow, it is still cold here. Lend me your sweater, and I promise it will be returned. I will even wash it, since I do need to busy myself, and it is the polite thing to do.