This always speaks to me and I dunno why. It could be all the stories of Mami Wata I heard as a kid…
Put this life to rest I ask
Hold me preciously
Like you would the universe
Gently but firmly
In this last hour, leave my eyes open
For me to delight in Death’s face
Before she kisses me adieu
I hope to feel her cold lips on my wet brow
And for that one kiss I now live
Splitting every breath I take
Savoring every second I wait
Blank I came, full I’m leaving
If a fancy leads you to look me up
Place your right hand on your left breast
I will be knocking behind every beat.
Three months at the hospital
90 days she will never have back
Three months of fast and prayer
Three months me and God fighting
Like Job wrestled with God
I begged and prayed for Him
To have mercy on her
By taking me, her mother, instead of her.
I still remember the day she was born,
She had the smiling eyes of my dear husband
and my thick and proud hair
She gained weight quickly
And was a happy fat cheeked baby
She was the joy of everyone that met her
Women at church and at the market fought over holding her
I was the happiest mother in town during those days
We sang lullabies, we played in water, we communicated like beings
who have known each other in another life
At three years old, you cried a river when I left you with grandma for two days
I felt the same but it was to prepare us both these three unforgettable months
Now here I am sitting with you
Between life and death
Arguing with God and the Devil
for the right to keep my child
My soul was sunbathed
Everytime you smiled for the bath I gave you
You are thirteen years old
And its been three eternal months
Before and after don’t exist
Doctors wanted to get me admitted too
But I told them that if she dies
Just wrap me with her body and bury us
On that day when the earth stopped spinning
When the flowers stopped blooming
When the stars fell off the sky
When the night came to stay
When God hid his face
When the devil laughed out loud
When you ate and talked like everything was going to be ok
On that day I decided to leave. I got in the taxicab and you left me alone
Later they told me that I refused clothes, food and water for three days
But here I am a living dead and you are gone:
Rosa, Rosa, Rosa what am I going to do without you?
she was one to fall exquisitely
her eyes held the abyss with a firm and strong grip
locks of her hair danced with the wind
like a war flag waving at souls on a battlefield
she wasn’t one to dig a grave and not sleep on it
so she cleaned herself up from head to toes
made madly and deadly love to her one time lover
pumped perfume to tease the god’s nostrils
took her rocking chair to sit in the gap between Life and Death
while her skin entertained her parting soul with musical threads
she made avec le chant de l’hirrondelle
the hands of time couldn’t hold her any longer
she had made enough space in herself
to set her own timeline
just the flicker of a second
enough time to delight
in her last breath.
LAST SESSION IN COURSE
It was 10:05 pm. The weather was supposedly warm for tonight, not that I would care. My temperature was definitively high at this point. Her last text said: “I’m on my way”. I had asked my favorite nurse, Aimee to put the sign up: “DO NOT DISTURB BETWEEN 10 PM AND 4 AM” at the door. I was lucky that I had her as a nurse tonight. I don’t think nurse Carmen would have been as understanding. The Tv was on like always, but I wasn’t watching. I was gazing at the city lights outside. The first few days here, I couldn’t have enough of the view, but now it seemed the lights had stopped glittering and were simply cold and distant like everything else. Except for Arielle.
She didn’t knock, but simply came in. She was wearing her pleated blue and grey dress and a white shirt. She had her hair tied in a bun which made her eyes look bigger than normal. Something about her face looked different. She had put on some make up, I couldn’t believe it. It was barely noticeable, but it made her look older. I smiled and she smiled too. Her smile always changed her like sunlight in a dark night and all I would want is to curl under it. I didn’t know what to say, she didn’t either and we were content to leave words aside. She put her bag in the chair next to my bed and stood near me as we dived in each other’s eyes.
I flicked the covers aside with a sense of theatricality that made her smile. I was dressed in my usual hospital attire, a thin and loose gown, an IV line delivering hopelessly antibiotics to my body and lines monitoring my heart rhythm. Other than that, the cold that I felt didn’t stop me from rising and poking under that gown. I swallowed hard as she lifted the gown and took me inside her. Her thighs were slightly warmer than mine. Our lips were slightly parted as she started to rise and fall on me while my hands closed around her breasts.
For a few minutes that lasted a lifetime, I forgot medical procedures, examinations, blood work… until I heard nurse Aimee’s voice at the door.
“Are you ok in there? Your heart rate is in the 150’s. Can I come in?”
“NO! I mean no. I’m ok. I was just…turning in bed. I’m ok. I just need to be left alone.
“ok, but make sure to call if you need anything.”
Arielle resumed her rise and fall. Our muffled moaning did a full rotation of Earth and galaxies, moved starts into a sing along, round and round; enveloped the spine of a breeze at night and came and left like waves crashing on a beach. We were gods awaken from slumber, neither moth nor flame, neither leaf nor hurricane, slurping on rich, earthy bliss. 3 minutes and 30 seconds: a small and sweet death for these chimerical lives. We were forever young gods living eternally now.
She gently rested herself on my chest, as we listened to each other’s heartbeats slowing down, tears falling down our cheeks. The she got off, tenderly wiped me down and went into the bathroom. Few minutes later, she managed to collect some of who she was back. We looked at each other one last time and then she left.
I turned off the tv, the lights and wished to grab the switch off for the city lights, but all I had to do now was to wait.
Four months of texting back and forth, of yes and no, of hope and abyss to finally find myself sitting at the bottom of my soul, watching one bubble after another go up to the surface. Four months after learning that surgery was too risky and the only thing was to wait and get comfortable. Dad and mom ran up and down, moved their mouths, emptied their pockets and their eyes even after I said “I’m fine. Just make sure the music selection at my funeral moves feet and not souls.” Mom didn’t get it and her hand printed itself on my cheek, then her lips while she said she was sorry.
I didn’t expect that having a good timeline for one’s departure could turn moments into miniature movies and chase away sleep like an intruder in one’s home. I was alive and was waiting for death’s soft embrace. I was alive and for those 3 minutes and 30 seconds, I was alive inside Ariel and I had a short briefing with God on relocating paradise.
My last two months, I encouraged family members and friends to bring their movie nights, game nights and laughter days to me. Their tears could come before or after that, but the only food and water I cared about was their laughter and acting normal.
So on my last day, I surprised my mom by asking her to get me my favorite drink: A strawberry milkshake and while she was gone, like everyone else, I closed my eyes to rest a little while.
I want you and I to talk about the stuff of life. The tiny breaks she made when she threw those words at me. The year, the month, the day and the minute before those invasive bacteria took mon papa.
I want for that night. For that night to have been a dream. I want the power to have gone out like usual. I want that one to not have desired a bath that night. I want for mon petit frère to have been tired and not want to play. I want for me to have been mesmerized by the tv screen like always. For me to have reacted and not just stare. But that’s what I did. I stood there and stared. Our eyes forever locked, forever speaking, forever asking why.
What’s in a life? atom, molecules, flesh. Yes, lots of flesh, but all I have left and all I want to have is the smell of their souls. You can smell it whenever I blink or close my eyes. This corner of my heart doesn’t need any cleansing. The ecosystem that has grown in there must be protected at all costs with every ounce of blood.
In my shell, in this sacred cocoon, the Spirit hovers above the waters of my life. Waiting to breathe upon them a new world. For every limb I lose, my shell grows thicker and the smell grows stronger. For every face you see, another one lies underneath. I have unwrapped and unrolled myself with every move, but with every vision, my loved ones lost their sight, but you don’t need to worry, if you blink or close your eyes, they will find my smell on you.
f*** a stick-up
I WANT THIS BLOWN UP ON MY WALL WHEN I’M WRITING OR FEELING TOO GOOD TO BE AROUND HERE!!!
David Gough. Theothanatos XII - Legend, 2010. Oil on canvas, 30” x 40”.
The hollow fossilized remains of man, prostate in a barren landscape, hollow sockets echoing empty hope as A neck cranes to the sky and hands clasp in tense invocation.
The ultimate encapsulation of religious conviction,a penitent empty existence in servitude of death, for a promise unseen.
Yep he completely missed the point…