What I do know:
This is not the first time the world has ended.
What I do not know:
If there will be anything left.
What to make of this body.
If you had died I would never have stopped crying.
I like it short, the feel of my skull beneath my palm, but I grow out my hair for you, to ease your mind. The curls beanstalk tendrils for you to climb and find golden eggs of promise, harps that play your song even when you’ve forgotten it. You are mine, a buzzing hive inside me, sweet honeycomb from pain.
When this existence is a howl down on my knees. When all I want is to shed this heavy casing of bone and flesh, these organs so encumbered by space and time - oh, how they cage. When all I can see are the blood and the carcasses in the dirt under my feet, and all I can do is moan and convulse: I’m so sorry. This is the best we could do. You deserve more than this -
- you are the reason I stay. Your crooked teeth, your lisping tongue. The feel of you in my arms as we swayed to Nina on the record player.
This is why I’m here. This is why I came back, you told me earnestly. You were just two then.
I felt your words and your small body begin to anchor me, begin to suture the wound of your leaving. My heart more than this jagged, gaping howling. The promise of peace. It didn’t last, but I know its waft.
I am trying to make a world that is worthy of your life.
They say that at seven we begin to forget. The first cycle completes, fractures from what is to come. The child bides its time, laying itself to rest until it is safe to remember. But you have been born into a realm where forgetting is encouraged.
They have told us we are separate. Told us we are alone. Told us we need their light to see by, their food in our bellies, their medicines in our blood, their creations to make us whole.
I know how hard it is to stay awake. Our eyes are heavy, our limbs are cold, our blood has slowed, and sleep shimmers for us in the thick darkness. Every day, I know this weight.
You are my reason.
My tears have teeth.
I sink to the ground, press my face to Her, and my heart spills itself, pours out its contents. The blood in the soil is quickened, spirals beneath, and that which was hidden becomes visible.
We are here. We have always been here: kneeling, planting, hands outstretched, hearts beating, glowing drums in the darkness, campfires everywhere. Cauldrons stirred - blessings and curses, pleasure and pain, joy and grief - the soup of life. Murmured incantations knitting together above and below.
We are not alone. Their words are lies. That transforms into this, each moment new, the work of love weaving through the unraveling.
Can you see it? I want to help you see it. As the projections dull your sight and lull you to sleep, I swim to you in dreamtime. Better to be awake and aching, here together, but I’ll find you wherever you are.
This is the work of remembering. These were the vows we made when we were differently shaped: that we would take turns as keepers of this flame, now in front, now behind. That when you forget, I remind you; when I forget, you remind me.
The fire is on its way. We will do this together. The path will be lit once again.
I place the ashes on the altar.