In The Absence
In the absence of Christ, one must become one’s own hands, moving one’s self tenderly through all the shapes that pain takes. Whatever you thought you knew, your hands will forget it for you, remembering only the hollows and lilts of your lonely body which quietly holds its own story, and waits to be heard. So when you are listening at last, your hands will be holding that wordless quality your mother’s had which changes everything and nothing. And in this luxury the marrow of your bones will finally speak. This is what you hold when there is nothing to hold but old and cellular grief. Find a window. Together with yourself, see: the light breaks, the bedsheets cradle me, crumpled, my head may rest here in aching peace.
The veil between me and the place where everything works is thin as an onion’s membrane, and behind it, darkly, I can see my life happening, see it decked in simplicity like the basic lace of old curtains. I must stop adoring all my failures and go in, quietly, as in to the kitchen where a full meal waits, because I am full of frailty but have not forgotten how to eat; it was written into my body in a way that all this failing and thinking were not. Pain is an error, and I will always be in error, happily or not, but I can walk through it as easily as God could step out of my closet, if she chose, and does, and the peach she is holding, plump, radiant and loud as the bombers flying over half the world, is ripe and must be eaten right now, if not to be wasted — not the fruit, which lived to be offered, but I, who did not make the time to taste.
“The cure for pain is in the pain.”
The cure for pain is in the pain. As if an inside knife could air the venom from a swollen vein. Or does it mean, Increase the weight you bear deliberately; speed forward into grief; assist that thirsty alchemy, despair. It may be saying, Drop the sheaf of what you must have, like a useless broom of frivolous weeds, whose life was brief. You will not have it. Not till the room you are is empty, blown clear in a shutterburst of rain, and the wind plucks heedlessly a threadless loom. It strips us clean as bone. In failure, we’re laid plain as whitewash, old as grain. The cure for pain is in the pain . . . and yet, I cannot say goodbye again.