Big Window

a quick glimpse of something beautiful

Lives of the Saints by Kathleen Jesme

I began as a darkness and remained so. My life was lit by occasional
flares toward which I groped unevenly. I had no mother and no father to
speak of. Then you came and it was a big midnight into which the empty
stars had been sucked. All that was left were the curved streaks of
their paths sliding through space as we turned on our axis and turned
around our sun, and turned around our galaxy and turned once more.
There was no turning point. All was in flux. All was darkness.

*

I
was a schemer. I lit lamps in unlikely places to attract night’s
insects. I knew nothing of the day. Words sunk in me like ships crushed
in an ice floe. I nursed hiddenness. Took on meaning. Imbibed the sound
of thunder. I waited for things to come by and trapped them. My father
told me that wild things will not suffer containment. I learned by
entrapment. I learned by the sound of my knees sliding through fall
leaves. I entered and left by the smallest of holes, like a bat. I
peeked when I was supposed to cover my eyes. I saw things I was not
intended to see. I told. I didn’t tell. I said. I didn’t say. I hid in
the least spaces.

*

I
was most ordinary and began as a thing. You didn’t know me. We missed
each other by minutes—my coming, your going. I made up words to explain
it. They never did. At 12, I found something that was like you but was
not you. I began to follow it. It led me everywhere. I fed it from a
saucer on the chipped linoleum floor. I kept it lit.

*

I
was a great liar and told many tales that were true. I kept things in
pockets that no one knew about. I had suitcases ready at all times. And
nobody could discover what it meant. I followed anacondas and
slipstreams. I wanted a vegetable but all we had were flowers.
Sometimes I took them down. I tried to remake the noise. I sat for
examination. I was full of puncture holes. Marks appeared on my body
overnight, as if from dreaming. I climbed the ladder from Hell and
crossed. My robe trailed behind me and caught in the slats because I
was already not tall enough for it. You believe me, don’t you?

*

I
was a boy like other boys, except that I had murdered my sister. There
was a lot of atonement required. I made up a past and a future. I
visited wombs and their prisoners. I brought music whenever I could.
The credo was one I decided to live by. They called me another name
than the one I was born with. Then my name broke and had to be replaced
again. I was one of the chosen. I went this way instead of that. I
rejoiced in the lamb.

*

I was a product of despair. There was a river of dying, and I floated
in on it. Others were leaving, and I was coming. There is no cure for
that. I found pinpricks of light that absorbed me. I wanted to keep
looking. I was through before I even began: I could see the finishing
point right from the start. I could hear moles burrowing and squeaking
underground; I thought I must be an owl, but I was not. I learned to
dissemble.

*

Once,
finding a hole in the ground, I passed over it. I was taught to call it
God. My life has been the same ever since. It could not have been I who
did that. I am more like a field than anything, although receptiveness
liquefies me. I had a childhood once, and wanted to keep it. Everything
else has been lost in the general conflagration.

*

Although
I had parents and a family, I was approached by other orphans. I took
what I could from them. I tried to build with stones. I emptied the
enormity of my body. I found the other thing and tried to hide it. It
beat me every morning with a stick until I submitted. I found that
staring at the ceiling created a conversation I liked. I knew it was
not-me, but I couldn’t quite believe it. I honored the muffled sounds
of fucking that came through the wall. I kept a crow call in my dresser
drawer for future needs.

*

I
couldn’t stand my insides. The stinking of blood and the fush of organs
working. I stood along the railroad track wanting to crawl under the
train. The star inside me grew larger and larger. It began to show
through a mark growing on my leg and the white scars on my fingers from
pocketknives. I learned how to penetrate numbers. I crossed the portal
of time gleefully. I grew a row of nipples on my chest. That was how I
became who I am.

*

I
learned one thing and learned it well. I photosynthesized sunlight and
procreated by scattering seedlings. I tried the patience of the gods.
You and she, that is. I copied others. I came to the end quicker than
expected. I died on a bed of apples. I could not retrieve a single
memory, and became a large bank, but no one made deposits. I wanted to
come back as a mother’s ghost. I wanted to see my tears. But it was
late, and the lights had gone out all over the city. I opened my eyes
without asking and saw them blink back on, one by one.

by Kathleen Jesme

published in the amazing new issue of Coconut!

Julie Speed_Dogma_Fish

Dogmafish by Julie Speed

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