Eventually, this fan will click louder, repeatedly, the click distending, its bloat reaching down Bouny in a meshwork of honeycomb, settling onto decaying hitch posts, in creek beds, sponged around the rust of old mail slots. The sound will be everywhere and deafening and I know I have to glue a piece of weight to one of the blades for balance and hope to impel control in one small spot of my life and then hope for thickening, for spread.
I went to church, Del. Can you believe it? I was there two mornings ago, the day after I first saw the street split, and it was the first time I’ve been to church in a long time, though the smells from inside that I could almost smell from outside, my imagination wound deep into my memory, opening it like a sleeve, bent time back upon itself, these smells, I thought, could be something like medication—not the actual scents, not the jasmine the new car the lily the sweat-dried blanket, not the prompt but the memory itself, the thing, the time, the fragrance of reliving or once-lived, the transport of recollection, that one smell and you are once again, say, waiting for nightfall in the weeded field behind your childhood home, that smell, that memory, recalling tranquility. The first thing I’ll do when I die is collect those scents in a crate; I’ll sit in an old armchair and go back in time.
I went to church, an old church I’ve never visited, flaked paint on the wood stairs that turned and curled like an uncured spine. The benches were stained golden oak and bleached in slices from the sun. Church service wasn’t happening at the time but I was still, there, waiting, and being in the warm room felt like a ceremony in some way, I don’t know, in the possibility of a lift, a reprieve. I knelt in quiet and thought of
When I was young, my mother told me I should always pray to St. Jude, St. Jude protector of the desperate, the lost. St. Jude, he with the cupped hand at his chest, he, waiting to cradle, as a bassinet does, his hand, the thing that carries, cupped, against my cheek, comforting, easing, scrubbing. I close my eyes and, when I open them, there he is, behind me, St. Jude, here, statued in the narthex with the bright fire at the top of his head glinting, large, as if the smoke of all the spoken prayers floating from the individual wicks of candles lit around him poking up from the purple vases in the room meet at the crest of his head to make one big prayer. Are they held in the plaster flame and sent up all at once when the flame is extinguished, he, St. Jude weighed down, daily with solemn pleas, lightened once released, then again heavy the next day, again, again. The responsibility of unending duty, the heft of holding everyone’s expectancies. I wonder if it turns into a burden, there, the stuccoed cloak chipped, sections of green missing, like wounds, exposing chalk underneath. I station myself in front of him and reach out to touch the punctures, settling my finger in the lull, feeling the powder and grit of his flesh while I rub repeatedly, deepening the gash, my thumb on the robe, the parts that are still there, hoping to somehow re-drape the parts of him exposed, to give him the privacy over the parts taken by others, by me. I look at his face and indirectly at his eyes, at the corners, hoping he won’t stare back at me. I feel if we share each other’s gaze I’ll have to answer a question that would scare me, one that I can’t engage, one that I don’t have the voice for. He has a small clump of black finishing in the corner of his eyes like a dog might and I turn my head and lower it into my shoulders, as if his dog eyes are begging me to pity his loneliness there on his rostrum. Help me, maybe, take my hands, maybe, or maybe, no, just leave me to it, just let me be. Kneeling there on a leather prayer bench in front of him, resting my elbows on a thin platform and my forehead into my clutched hands, St. Jude finally bends down and touches my head, his fingers crackling as they separate from each other to spread over my skull. I feel the dust of that fracture rest on my neck and breathing it in almost makes me retch. I think of how much more of his cloak must be molting and landing next to us and then I feel the floor attach to me, becoming my own wings, like I have grown soft, flat tobacco sacks out of my shoulders, my hips, cut and splayed, collecting flakes of plaster, exposing his white wounds, petals of his own body haloed around them; I let it happen to me. I continue there in quiet and wait for the press of a tight grip, his fingertips settling into my head, for him to take me from
to bring me up where my breath will pass in a rapid staccato like it does when first walking out into the freshness of a cold morning, nearly a gasp, then skybound, where my breathing will rhythmically slow and I’ll be light and curled. He’ll release me at some point and I’ll float back down, wavering like a bag, like old mail, like a great stone, back on the leather kneeler where I can hold out, invisible, till next time, the two of us waiting for the dream of re-ascending and witnessing the intercession of these daily fluctuations, in heartbeats, both of us full of more holes, here.
Here. In this church, with me, on my knees, alone, waiting
begging to be opened
like a sleeve