By Nathan Goldschot
My faith in you was unwavering. You were the light and I the jealous darkness. Blinded by your luminous presence, I reshaped my world just to be near you. I harbored a furtive penitence to accept what I could not change. An unrequited liturgy.
Then, you were gone–your name gracing a granite marker on flat, pastoral ground. I spurned your mortality until there was no denying your energy had returned to still earth. I remained your secret acolyte and mourned alone.
I acquiesce to abstract images and black and white illusions. Memories flashing on a cinema screen inside my hollow chest. A corruption of your grandeur but one I can manage. I twist my perceptions to peer through a window at a utopia I could never breach–an atmosphere I could never breathe. Distorted reenactments of fleeting moments. Cold comfort.
Tonight I am not alone in my theater. I fight back a panic knowing you’re somehow beside me. A tectonic tension scrapes between us as if you’ve never left my side. The force of your silent will bends me in repentance. I swear my faith in you will never again falter. A sweet-tempered laugh lifts me to your coruscating gaze. My awe fades. A renewed temptation gnaws at me–one I dare not test.
The projector breaks and the film jams. Celluloid melts in incandescent light. Oak beams shatter and old stones twist as the cinema stretches lofty and wide. The screen folds itself into a paper altar inside my vacant rib cage. I feel it burning. A great temple rises where the theater was razed. Throughout the tribulation you remain serene.
You subvert my long-standing agony and embrace me. I sacrifice myself to your radiance. Ready to suffocate. To disintegrate. You crawl to my lap in this cheap theater seat to consecrate my devotion. I am numinous as you envelop me.
My body melts against yours. Tectonic tension creating molten heat. You burn away all that I am. Deep rooted pain reduces to ash. Scorched and sinewed flesh is renewed as the magma recedes. Plates shift. Earth quakes.
We defile the sacrament. Angels fall at our feet. The temple collapses under a truth holier than my faith. Regret is our antichrist and discernment the only sin. Your body cleaves to mine and all I can do is smile–awash in the conflagration.
You take my hand and we leave the ruined church behind. My inner alter turns inside out, revealing a fragile sanctuary. Low ceilings. No windows. Dusty oil paintings hang from cedar paneled walls, shouting scenes of the sea. Moldering books, photo albums and rolls of papers tied with string are stacked on a trio of broken Windsor chairs. Water damaged vinyl records lean against a dying potted fern. I can hear an unseen ocean roiling just behind the walls. This dilapidated house creaks and leans. It is ours alone.
You laugh and ask if this is the best I can muster and I say yes.
I keep you close, our bodies intertwined. You share your light but I am not fit to hold a single spark. Purity clashes with chaos, pushing up mountains beyond our sight–jagged peaks scraping the sky. You soothe me with a smile, your hand pressing to my heaving chest. I push the fragmenting world away to join you in a fleeting moment of uncomplicated bliss. Your supple skin intangible as I caress your cheek. Our kiss abruptly ends.
You slip away from me with a grin and hurry to the bathroom, disappearing behind a shower curtain. I hear the water run and step closer. You smile as I pull back the curtain and warn me I’ll get wet but I don’t care. I gently stroke the curve of your breast and run my hand along the pale slope of your skin to your hip. Try as I might, I cannot bear your ardent gaze. I step away with a gasp as your divine light reignites.
Your tone is gentle as you ask me what’s wrong, as if the question could be anything but condescending. I slump in defeat. What could this be if not an act of pity? My renewed fervor dooms us and this place. Our fragile shelter cannot withstand the crashing waves beyond the walls. The boards surrounding us begin to splinter. The concern gracing your face fills me with dread.
You step out of the shower and hurry to the main room of our sanctuary. I watch in confusion as you collect bundles of paper, fading photo albums and warped records. You stack as much as you can in my outstretched arms and you tell me to run but I’m not leaving you behind. Not again. Your hands press to my shoulders as I drop the burden you’ve thrust upon me. You kiss me tenderly and I know it’s for the last time.
The paper altar has burned away. You’re still with me but your form is nebulous. I strain to listen to your words but they make no sense. Our sanctuary sinks into the sea as the landscape shifts and falters. A stone wall. A grassy plain. A strange and frightening abyss.
This is a dream. It’s impossible to deny. I am desperate to hold on but logic rips you from my grasp. I thrust my arms in front of me in frustration and open my eyes.
Sunlight shines through my bedroom window, cutting a swath across my middle. My heart is boxed in light. I sit up with a groan and hold my head in my hands.
You’ve never felt so far away.