Sunday Best


I don’t sleep any more, not really. Whatever happens when I close my eyes is fitful and restless, plagued by strange dreams that I can’t remember but still they haunt my blood, my bones. I can’t remember what it’s like to rest, I feel like a ghost haunting myself, something wearing my skin but loosely, ill fitting, a child in its father’s Sunday suit, the one he’ll be buried in. I can’t tell the time any more either, I’m aware of the hours yet they make no sense, I am just here and it is always now while the sun wheels through the sky until it doesn’t any longer and the stars wheel instead. I feel lost in this body, I’m longing to touch but I forget how, or am fearful that I’m forgetting, that if I found another body to touch it would be foreign, strange, alien, a collection of obtuse geometries and unfamiliar geographies, like trying to kiss the dust of Mars or run my fingers through the tresses if Valhalla, or thrust into the cold brightness of the Milky Way becoming dizzy and lost in the slow spinning. This is where my thoughts lay, not in my head, outside of it, spinning on vast wheels, twisting from the carding combs into thin, fine threads that tangle, twist like streams of blue smoke from my lips, twining about my fingers in wreaths, hanging from around my neck as beads, thick garlands of holly and mistletoe, talismans, fetishes, skulls or relics, fragments collected in silver filigree or golden ligaments. I am dissolving, I know this, becoming something more and less, a collection of scrolls, bright capitals, illuminated by slow, worshipful hands, the crook of my neck becomes the bell of a trumpet, my belly a cluster of grapes, limbs sheafs of wheat ripe for the reaping, my teeth a flick of lambs lead by the shepherd of my tongue. My skin in the flaying and scraping becomes fine parchment, laid flat, a map of veins and arteries slowly scraped palimpsest, pricked by stylus, scored for new lines, letters small insects crawling along the ladder of my vertebrae, dense text to be read aloud to the canonical hours, some strange liturgy preformed by imbecile mummers to the tune of washboard and rib cage. I become the sounds made by whippoorwills, the burbling of doves in Saint Mark’s Square, a vast thunder of wings, a pinwheel of dusty feathers purple black bruising the fair sky, falling to bits and pieces kept in mason jars like rainwater or rose petals or all the odd screws, nails, door hinges, the bits of oddments that once had purpose but now sleep beneath the rust, crumbling as wood, an old barn falling to the embrace of time, the vegetal insistence of ivy, writhing green and suffocating through lungs tanned and leathern, smith’s bellows cracking, abandoned, unable to draw full breath only fitful wheezing, as fitful as the sleep I can no longer find behind the locked doors of cathedrals that stand alone and pointless amidst naves of trees, open forever to the predations of foxes and crows, those who dream up from the black earth towards the black skies where the stars stop wheeling, become fixed points from which I hang, broke bodied, pendulum, swaying from the neck, all of the joints out of place, rotting under the canals of Venice. Oily waters embrace, filling the empty corners, perhaps here is sleep, beneath the forgetful ceaseless waves, bereft of names, wandering ribbons of ragged white funeral lace, within the deeps, drifting down and down and down until bones twist into strange driftwood tangles, sea smoothed, salt waters carving the ivory beneath the flesh into scrimshaw, bending, warping all of the architecture until it loops and I’m biting my tail, devouring my own flesh, what sacrament could this now be, I don’t even like wine, but my blood is sweet and if I should drink it all down like milk of the poppy, like Buckley’s cough mixture will I finally lay me down to sleep, the kind I no longer know or remember knowing or forget in the remembering? I cannot say, I am tired yet no nepenthe, just ceaseless rustling of all the pages of me left to write.

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