January 23, 2012

Despite respite


It hadn't even been a full day and night. The initial tilt had become isolation, and then a swift possession of gestures. What warmed up as a dizzy waltz became a full-blown gospel choir of near dementia. Was it the Lord, our Father who art in Jersey, inside him or some other sinister marionette?
Whatever it was leaked milk-tears from his eyes. His head was too heavy to hold them all. It hung low as the moon.

Weight is what filled the void where that animal spirit bended and billowed within. I was unfamiliar until then, like a motion detector. A shy ghost. Without the spirit to defy science, what was once my pet had just become biology-- in my futile arms, reduced to geometrics and physiology.

If he was scared, I couldn't tell if the fight was to stay or leave. I stayed to feel the shift. He bucked. Something awakened inside him, knocked for release and demanded expulsion.
Lastly, the breath. I'm always perplexed at how something so visceral remains invisible, nearly undetectable. A neck rests like wet leaves against my jeans. No wild eyes, just still glass. Still everything.

Raising his limp form, suddenly heavy for his size, I considered CPR and then thought against it, afraid to breathe a demon back into his body, as if what would come back would not be the same, but a feral spook, resentful for the invocation.
That manual resuscitation would not work did not even occur to me. It is a uniquely mad moment when a phantom reality settles and you truly believe that if you willed it, you could do anything. Like bring back the dead, for instance. I won't mention the stopping of time because you just wouldn't believe me. It lasts not even a minute, but long enough for you to become formally acquainted with a part of yourself that will always be reserved to fill a depth created by the love that clings to your own senseless resolve. Desperation is to Godliness.

I stared and stared, watching the atoms and ions which become visible behind my eyes in the rare moment when you are seeing-- really seeing-- what your heart knows. They are moved by some breeze I don't feel but they make quick work, solidifying the furry vessel that just a moment ago I was desperately trying to hydrate with Pedialyte in a tiny turkey baster to the mouth. I didn't think to close his eyes before they too stuck.

I waited for the stiffness to take. I waited for the warm to leave. For it to change its mind. To trail it for questioning and brutalize it into creeping back into its body. But these forces won't humor me, not today. Today they enforce the only thing we know for sure, more than circumstance and sin. They bring to me, in serpents' jaws, a reminder of inevitability. I never heard it coming, I only felt the sting.


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