This is a letter with no salutation. This is my declaration of silence that I’m ruining in the act of making it, where I say I might have been human even if I never believed it for a minute. This is a format I stole from my dead, the pattern and the shape that’s been with me ever since, the rhythm that gets me bleeding in third person, perfect. This was a year and I didn’t make it and I’ll repeat myself and go unheard, I’ll go without, I’ll never finish. This is a dialect that only matters in the moments I’m not speaking it, a syllabary that murders and resurrects itself by the end of each sentence. I’ve given up more than I’ve kept. I’ve cut out everything again. I’m reaching for the frequency that lets me get my teeth into the cyclic, to swallow all the holiness I let bleed out without a witness, my tongue around axis, and me, heartless, a little thing with no body and no blood and no hope of salvation, with no means to end what I started to begin with. This is occurring between empty brackets. This is coded just so you can’t have it. This is spiteful and helpless, my fury only ever getting me from one depth to the next, a little abyssus abyssum invocat. This is in answer to getting in over my head, to learning to drown again, to breathing out and never ever breathing in. I want the rush. I want to kill what I’ve let calcify and learn to make my bones out of something unforgiving, something glorious. I want the marrow and the mirror both. I want asphyxiation and a way out. I want my sternum unwound from its point of entry, its exits mandatory, its cruelty welcome and perilous. I want her fingers in my mouth. If I’ve said less it’s because that’s what I’ve known, the world thinning down to an interior because I’m withholding to hold on at all, I’m slaughtering what’s come before to keep my edges vicious, the whole of this a means of getting out, not alive but near enough. Starvation tactics and nothing else. I’ve said more in the pauses here than you’ll ever know. I’ve put the whole of scripture in the hello I haven’t said and won’t. I’m learning how to destroy this and never stop, demanding the insistence that comes from the threads we’re carrying between moments. The space between you and I and everything else. The panic and the veil and the ruins we haven’t made yet, the cost of dying for our mathematics. This is the Garden that punishes us for entering into it. This is the sudden stop I promised. This is the dream that consumes and kills and I’m slipping underneath the surface to catch the filament of what comes after these triumphs and your end. I’m counting until I’m nothing but somehow still your salvatrix. This is a deathwish in increments.
We unravel our veins and let them oxidize in the darkness. We move with purpose. We make space to worship, to push the divine beneath us, to mourn our deaths and dream of new ones. We pass through and it destroys us. There is a difference between starvation and wanting, between the sounds we shelter and the ones we pour out, the bloodletting that defines us, that gives us the moment before what we were becomes something else. There is a witness and there are no mirrors here but us. We’re silvered, slivered, reflections of a City that always welcomed us. We’re dead but not silent, but we’re dead regardless. Our dialect runs out. The lines of this place are familiar and we’re faceless at the threat of it, our edges torn apart just enough. We’re a sacrifice to the end of this, we’re beautiful because we’re helpless. There is a heartbeat and it isn’t ours and we can almost taste it, we’re delicate and vicious and if there’s little else it’s because we’ve been less, we swallowed absence and we made it ours. The streets spread wide and lightless and we open with them, we let our phosphenes out of our mouths, we sing like we were meant to for a moment, our bodies disconnecting on a frequency that will kill us and it does, our immolation perfect and cyclic. We unravel our veins, the argyria in our blood spilling out onto the asphalt, watering this place with what made us. We bleed until we don’t.
Sound and skin and paperthings to ease the pain of metamorphosis. My passage through this burns in time with the last judgement. I need the fix to keep my hands from becoming relics, sacral fingertips, holy carpals. I hit the rhythm that I know by a heart that could be mine if I ever got around to it. We speak on the underside of words we haven’t spoken yet and the echo ruptures just before it reaches air. Remember who we’re killing, here. Remember that I’m better now that I’m less. I’ve carved the edges of this into a hymnal with all the syllables I’ve got left, all the apocalypse I’ve dressed up as being human when we know I’m not, not after another night like this. If you were close there’d be no forgiveness. Look don’t touch and other scripture. I don’t want the worship but I’ll take it if it means I can pretend that when I speak it isn’t silence. I’m nearer than I was to what I could have been if she had made it. I’m too late. I caught the space between breathing and losing everything and I made it perfect. I smiled for my vivisection and kept the hollow because I knew it best. I’m almost past tense. I promise because if I say it over and over I’ll won’t make it and that’s the point of this. We start to whisper, almost. There is stillness in us, our mother tongues close enough to touch.
This was a loveletter, once. This is the line between the living and what’s left of her pulse. It’s the line that makes her permissible and dangerous, the almost and not quite that keeps her precious, the way her breath marks time and nothing else. She plays the skin game just to lose. She plays for less. Her face is indistinguishable from what you need because you haven’t looked. She’s near enough for you to smear your fingerprints on but not close enough to touch. She’s other but not too much. She’s already bled out. You won’t love her like you love her corpse and so she pauses for the mirror she should have been and the ash beneath her bones and she’s counting all the present tensed because the past has never stopped. There’s a martyr in the shape of her, the one she learned to be long before she’s gone. There’s no difference between this and the beauty that she’s allowed if she keeps cold. She isn’t supposed to be here and she knows it, she’s counting streetlights so they’ll sing out when she starts to breathe again, so she’ll sing and pretend she says, so she can be enough to keep you from killing to get it all. She speaks and loses all at once. She has the words that only mean anything because they come from her mouth but you can’t hear them unless you’ve got your hands around her throat. When she’s beautiful, but I repeat myself.
There’s one thing or there’s nothing, and in the in-between there’s not much that looks like breathing, so we don’t. We’ve been faceless, smooth and cold. I don’t ask so you won’t answer. We trade dialect like skin, only I’m prey and you’re not with me, you’re not the measure and I’m not a witness. I don’t see except in fragments, you said. Syllables passed off as language. Words that mean less now that we’ve been caught speaking them. In the beginning, I said. Understated just like the heartbeat I’ve given up to write this. I need a mirror and that’s the one thing I can’t have, so it’s a dead letter I’ve been meaning to send, but I can’t, not when I’m late to my own autopsy, not when I’ve let the stitches show instead of my hands. I’m underneath, untouched for every definition except the meaning of it. I’ve got to hide so I confess, I give up everything because every aspect is another mask, another lie to keep my vivisection holy and undressed, ribs unfolded, fingers pressed against the heartless, a little spit between friends. I look the part. I’m everything I have to be to make sure I don’t make it and it’s what you’ve always loved the best. I can’t, not yet, there’s nothing if I ask and when I ask I’m less, lips wet with the water we can’t drown in, not when there’s so much left unsaid.
The City remembers us, our veins as soft as asphalt, the metal in us precious for what it won’t forgive us. We pray to saints with throats cut out. We ask because our tongues are long since gone and the words uncoil to fill the absence, all the pauses that could be angels if they’d ever learned to fall. There is divinity in us, between starvation and just enough, a sort of beauty that only matters when we’ve gone and so we ask and nothing answers and that’s the only thing we know. The dying are with us. The dead are endless. We sing, tongueless, our bodies an offering, our voices caught in a moment that inhales against the silence. The City remembers us and we go still, we’re helpless, our heartbeat trading on the violence that comes from moving while the blood is still inside us, each chamber thick with all the songs we lost when we crawled through the aftermath of what was left of us, a thousand hours for one promise, a thousand words for every one left out, the end of this and the end of all of it trying to reach the thread that’ll be enough to stop us, our lungs burned out in holocaust, a blessing and a monument to the skies we tore apart to prove that we were holy, that we were welcome in a Garden that wouldn’t have us, that we were more than bone. Each prayer is shorter than the last one.
She’s a stand-in for the dead. She’s washing her veins until they’re clean again. There’s a moment in this and she’s breathing but it’s nothing less than nothing even if there’s nothing after this. There’s a moment and it thins to match the starvation that she’s strung along beneath her, it’s familiar and it’s perfect. The edge slips and what she couldn’t meant more than what she did. She says please like it’s an offer to a dawn that doesn’t answer after four am. When the dream starts it’s too close, it’s the flower that spills out when she cuts beneath the surface for the sounds, for the words that took the rest of this, that won’t fit inside her mouth. She’s transparent but that doesn’t mean much. She holds the wounds up, she tastes each one and doesn’t see the mirror to what she was. She doesn’t see the glass smeared between concrete and what’s left of this, the question asked, hanging like she should have been, the pause and effect. Hope uncoils. She’s still monstrous. “Please,” she says.
This is a diary of unfinished angels. I’m less. Another victim of the war in heaven, another gasp for breath. I keep my prayers unanswered. I keep my heart in my hands. The saints are with me, counting all the dead. There’s a pause in our judgement, an inhalation, an invitation to the end. The song turns over, one against the other, reminding me of the hours that were never meant for this. It gets quiet, the repetition another word for silence and I don’t have time and so I make it, I pretend this is ritual and not desperate. I keep the outline of her. I push the stillness in. The endpoint slips and me with it because I was leaning transparent, I was saying what I meant and it gets uglier from there but here I am, here’s the blood-brain barrier, here’s the promise that I’ve kept. I take their names because if I say hers I’ll lose everything, all the space between that’s been measuring the oxygen I’d given up as punishment.
VOICI LE CORPS ET LE SANG
I’m beatified in slow motion, a martyr’s crown without the holiness. I’m trying to die. I promise. I’ve got the fear but no words for it, no hope to make it out of this. I said that this was the same thing that’s it’s always been, the same words and the same breath, the same bruises that stay with me in the stillness. One year, again. A thousand lines to mark passage from one scar to the next. I can tell you that I mean to and you won’t hear it, it’s safe and quiet, a little thing you keep meaning to but you won’t and I understand. You’ll know what to say when it’s finished, your composure perfect, the words only worth it in aftermath. The more I stay the less I am and I know it. I’ll sleep and wake up until I don’t. I’m precious and I’m absent and there’s no difference, just the quiet that keeps me close until my mouth fills up with the blood and spit of one more moment and I keep giving all these gifts that come because I was watching and you weren’t. I wanted something wondrous. I wanted to be wrong. I’m trying. I’m promise.
Thirteen years here and gone. I don’t remember much except for all of it. I contradict out of habit. I meant it after but not before. I wasn’t patient. It’s no one’s fault except I did it. I spoke and I meant it, precious in that moment, inertia branded in the first room we shared, the last one just like it. Nothing changed. It was just so hard. I kept dancing for the violence. Touching the sweat and stitches and the blue-glass sort of places that we could die in if I could just get to the water and keep us going, if we could stay up until dawn was soft enough to catch us. You took what I taught you and you stopped. I wasn’t the one who was going to live and then. You put your fist through the wall to show me that you meant it. I wasn’t supposed to smile when you choked me. I was beautiful and that was punishment. I was scarred enough to mark the passage, to tattoo over where you put your cigarette. You were gentle, I said. So did everyone. I won’t speak ill of the dead.
This is my only holiness. This is the place where I was beautiful, once, and it smells like the burnt-black smear of carbon on the underside of the metal I used to press the distance into nothing and press the nothing into myself. The end is the same as the last one. I’m ash and bone. I pass the cup. I stop breathing because every part of this is mine and every part of this is something that I’ve lost. I am precious and bleeding out and there’s no difference here, not between us. I want to be gentle but it’s just helplessness. I’m junksick and desperate because I was right before I knew it and now I’m gone. I speak less and less. I’m not empty but I’m empty enough.
I put her hands around my throat. I taste the viciousness that I was promised. I touch the keter and it’s mine and it’s poisonous.
The Garden is another bruise and I’m another corpse.