She keeps the Absolute in her eyes, and the Absolute hovers around her. So she can walk out of the city of flowers into the desert wearing no clothes at all, and men don’t interfere. All are welcome to look at her body, because her body isn’t anything, her body was discarded by her husband. White as jasmine, devoted to my name, wild, she scares men away. Her love is stronger than their eyes.
She's my wife in her heart, she crosses the desert alone, in pain and naked, passing between stones, singing to me. “Why don’t you show your face?” She begs the birds and the silkworms, the monkeys and the fiery sun, “Where is he, my Spek white as a book, sky-inhabitor?” She has me confused with an unknown god, my unreachability has given me divinity in her blood, she feels my divinity as pain.
Each grain of the desert finds the dune it belongs to, and each dune helps in holding up the sky. She passes between a dune of heedlessness and a dune of anger without climbing onto either. She settles her body into a dune of permitting, which sighs to feel her back against it. Written in the sand are words that never blow away, right where everybody can see them, STUTTER, CLUMSY, MISTAKE and the words have a single heart drawn around them all, and the heart is beating.
She sings At this very moment you might appear.
You said my face was like a sacrifice to God. But I don’t love this god. He taught you to snare women, as he snared you. He taught you to forget women, as he’s forgotten you. He taught you to ignore the pain you cause. Then show me how to sacrifice my pain to your naked idol. Show me how to crucify pain, beautiful Spek.
What does it mean that you’re “seeking”? where do you need to go? My pain is everyplace you can look, my pain is in the bowl of the sky, a broken sky falls on every head. There’s noplace you can go that my pain won’t gaze at you, begging you to kill it. If you walk into the future, my pain is there. If you walk into the past—but the past, before you appeared to me, was all ease and beauty. Will you infect that beautiful sky too, Spek, will you desolate even what I remember?
In my fragile heart you live raging, a black god killing creatures who gaze into your eyes. In my evil heart you live as an attributeless miracle, you sing light from your indescribable throat. I dreamed of my hands reaching for your light, and you woke me, Spek, by stopping my heart.
I could have been a mother, whispering sounds to a believing face. This is a mistake, isn't it, singing these words to your absent eyes? I should create a new song instead, a song of sobbing, a song of a vibrating heart, and give it to anyone who uses his ears with love. I could have married an unworshipping man with a face like flowers who would dance with me as I danced with him, who'd feel no guilt at my name’s joy. This is a mistake to speak these words to you, you who won't dance, you with absent feet, you who are all name, only name, Spek.
Shedding my song you wouldn’t listen to, shedding my eyes you looked away from, shedding my dancing that didn’t move you, shedding my opinions that bored you, shedding my awareness that didn’t warm you, shedding my body that couldn’t keep you, shedding my mind that didn’t interest you, shedding my heart that was invisible to you, what is the container for this pain, and what would this pain have me do now, without a self and without you, Spek?
My mother grieves because her daughter is damaged, is distracted, sits talking about a man’s eyes and hair, his voice and words, and his absence above all. She tried to teach me to protect myself, even when I was small she warned me against this. Now she’s furious at my beloved, who has demolished all her teachings. Will you still teach me, mother? Show me how to hate Spek, the way you do?
For others, it’s like you don’t exist. They don’t know you, they're free and lost. So they don’t understand what’s in my eyes. This darkness here, it’s a picture of you, it’s the dark watcher within me, the black ball at my center. This little black object, source of my pain, I would not give this treasure away to anyone. But I'll give it to you, Spek, to rub its perfume on your body.
I touched your body and before I could say “How strong, how soft, how vulnerable, how radiant,” how this and that, you'd already become a million Speks in my blood, and another million in my heart, and a million million in my mind. You may abandon me but I have no shortage of you. Did you know you’ve been singing me to sleep at night, and waking me in the morning, Spek strong and soft?
If I lie here long enough I'll forget you. I can’t possibly think of you every moment, this can’t go on. If I lie here without you I'll dissolve, and the blob remaining won’t be a girl, it won’t know how to miss you. If I lie here I’ll evaporate, and rise on ninety different breaths of air, and join that cloud there, and drift across the earth. But even as vapor I’ll still know you when I see you. I’ll fall on you as rain, Spek, I’ll soak you to the skin.
My heart is too full. If I met you now, like this, there'd be no room for you. If we ever merged together, how would there be space on the earth? We'd have to find another place to stand, a place without pain, we'd have to become formless, an idea, a banner with a symbol on it. We'd have to hide in the space between the seconds of time, or we'd crowd everybody out, Spek, the way you’ve crowded me out of my own breath.
I know you're married to a god. You're following your Christ to the edge of time. Your goodness and loyalty have helped you flee the filth of my body. You married the father in heaven, you love the son on earth. But what about HERE, in my head, in this infinite world of invisible images? Will you hold me in your arms here, at least? Will you marry me here? Our wedding will take place hidden between two atoms. Nobody will know, nobody will see. Out of the whole vast plain of earth, our marriage will be the size of a small jewel-box, the size of my mind. The honeymoon will hide here, within me. Here in my head I can give you Saturn for your ring. Here are no boundaries, here we span the ends of the universe. Here in this other place, in this hidden place, Spek, let us kiss.
James Chapman will live in New York a while longer, drop over while you can. His most recent novel is "The Rat Veda."