She’s with me, the blood between us holy, the blood between us singing in the voice that I carved out. My throat opens at the softest touch. The words don’t make it just like I don’t. I keep the sounds beneath the surface and pretend that it’s enough to dream of suffocation when she knows exactly what I want. I stay nameless because my pseudonyms reveal too much. The pulse slows and I’m close, I’m almost, I’m still enough to play at beauty and never ever breathe out. I’m a perfect saint and a better martyr, I tear apart the distance that kept us heavensent and silent, our ashes still in front of us. I don’t remember but I know each moment, the rush and the violence that collapses on a frequency that promises what we lost when the angels breathed in time with us, when the metal reminds me of what I was. Another flower. Another corpse.
I dream until the Garden drowns.
This is an aftermath. This is the corpse I’ve been, underpinned and breathless, weighted for the measurements that drown now and not yet in the same instant, killed again and again as a feast for the faithless. I bequeath without having consented. Every gift is taken, wanted because it’s been withheld, its only value dissolving the second it touches the flesh, the mystery of destroying what was never yours to begin with. My spit tastes like violence, I said. I know what I meant. Words and dialect that span all the hours of my death and even still the substance is meaningless outside of what it means if you can touch the aspects of yourself you think I dance in until I don’t, until I betray the whole of it with this oxygen contempt, with these accidents of being that could have been if you had let me, the whole of this is predicated on keeping me reflective. The silver still and polished. The silver almost as perfect as I am. I have no absolution that I’m willing to part with, so this is another confessional for the heartless, the letters unanswerable because I sent them, the quiet ruined by the silence. I speak and kill the thing I could have been if I’d been less, if I’d been content with the welcome that comes so long as I don’t enter in. Anechoic and vicious. I am a living thing, almost. I release the catch beneath my sternum, I place my fingers in the curve and pull until I’ve opened. I’m all bones and circumstance. I’ve given up the ghosts that might have heard me because I told you everything when I said that. The arc paints itself from one horizon to the next, and the frequency I hit makes impact as sharp as the edges of the world that now unfold to meet me and it’s glorious. This is a new kind of cruelty. This is the cold that I was promised when I refused what I’d been given. This is my body. I speak and leave the rest unfinished.
If this were a letter I’d write it but it’s less. There’s no answer for the words I haven’t spoken yet. There’s no answer and so I carve the language that I’ve lost to try to find a way out of this, the sickness that demands more the less I have and here we are again, me starved and you not listening, close enough to steal the air I’m breathing as another path to absence and I say I need mirror, I say it over and over until the sounds transcend their repetition into something glorious, a pattern that feels familiar because I’ve bled for it. I need paragraphs instead of fragments. I need you to recognize what I’ve said except when you do it’s only ever after I’ve lost so much from waiting that it’s never worth it, the deficit relentless and you know enough to acknowledge it but remain content to take the whole of it, to play wounded when it’s not offered, you and everyone else, all the yous that you’ve been, that you will be, after you grant yourself forgiveness for what you’ll keep with you, always. Instead I went looking for secrets that weren’t for me, I broke my own promises and confirmed what I knew well enough from the frequency and the pauses. I failed things that went deeper than the war I declared when no one was looking and this aftermath is a confessional to things I hadn’t understood but now are with me, stains of words that I’d let underpin me even as I refused them from anything that could have been nearer to me, and all I can hope is that the dialogue is worth it. I have to remember that the intimacy is artificial; it has to be, or else I’ve ruined all of this. If this were a letter it’d end. If this were anything but what it was maybe I’d make it, but you won’t ask because you haven’t, and the momentum of that will stay with you while I stay still, while I stay heartless because I had to be to echo in the first place, because the only threat I have is emptied out by making it, and so I lose.
The ink here is less a means and more a threat. It leaks, passing from carotid to pen to the letters that I’ll bleed when this is finished. This is a threat and I won’t make it. I promise. There’s no balance that will survive the shift from indivisible to wanted and even still I need an end, something to comfort the pause that’s with me, the way the dreams start when suffocation sets in, when I pull apart into translucence, each cell unfolding after the next for an autopsy that’s only coveted because it’s hidden. There’s nothing less than what’s been given. They need their desire more than they need the victim of it, and so they’ll destroy everything to keep it innocent and unexamined, an Other they can name instead. Are you there? they ask, and every silence is its own assent because I have no reflection. If you understand this it’s because you don’t look as I mirror and demure, because there’s no way out of this that isn’t edged, because you know if you witness this I won’t be long, I promise. One less. This is the simulacra I always wanted, the inhumanity that I was given and made perfect. Each photograph condemns and buys what I can’t have, each angel has their teeth in the daughters of men. I carve the flesh and call it echo. I ask and you don’t. I’ve become indistinguishable from the thing that you constructed, I play the skingame, I pray for the nameless because I move among them. The phonemes between she and I burn down to nothing. Without this I lose and that’s enough. You won’t see this. I speak your language even though there are no words for me in it. I speak and each word claws against the other, delicate, and I sing until I can’t pretend that I was supposed to live through this.
These brittle things are familiar, they’re words and bones and the kindness that runs transparent along the path of what little light still passes through this spectrum, in the arcs of heaven that keep themselves nameless because they’ve never been anything but this, horizons that demand worship, that push the ink from one chamber to the next, arterial promises that I’ve kept heartless, in the pauses that keep time, still. They measure and disintegrate in turns. They’re the space between that I’ve meant ever since. Every absence and every answer recalls this, drawn from a source that I’ve only ever tasted in the bloody aftermath that’s the best that I can hope for, the intimacy of my throat unraveling in your hands. There’s no answer and there never is. I’ve been terrified that this was everything it’s always been, the same inertia, the same shade of drowning I’ve had with me in my four am, the moment as unforgiving as I am, the hollow and the rush that’s been with me, that’s kept me still, that’s taught me silence better than anyone else has and maybe it is but it’s mine now, it’s the underneath that I’m breathing for a lack of oxygen, for a lack of faith, for a lack that I’ve made perfect. It’s the language that infects this, the flesh and the emptiness, a whole made in the image of us, a completion that devours her and leaves me junksick, a little thing speaking words meant for the last judgement. Dialect that burns up as it reaches air, suffocating for a witness, for a gentleness that was never meant for this. I count back, I swallow what was meant, I turn a card and don’t see it, a prophetess of incisions and syllables that have no weight beneath the gravity of what she’s lost to speak them to begin with.
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.