La Petite Mort

Sleeping face-down, her tomb-white body lay in flux on my sheets – her back rose, fell, flowing like the distant Jordan river – the dawn dim leaked in through the venetian blinds – morningblue sunlight cresting over the parabola of her naked hip with each exhale – the sun rising behind a crucified messiah – under my breath: Jesus Christ, you could kill me – dear God, I’ll be your lamb if you’ll be the absent Father I never had – I was always jealous of the children of divorcees, all those teens with their luxurious daddy issues gleaming – from across the threaded divide, I brushed her shoulder with my fingers – her eyelids fluttered, lifting slightly – a choir of monotone voices: He is risen indeed – I was always jealous of the religious, watching a PowerPoint slideshow of my father’s father and saying they could still feel him with us – eyes skyward, feeling Him with us – him alone on the river with the water gurgling against his waders – slim green line whistling through the air: sanctus, sanctus – the slipshine of scales, a massive brown trout – barbed steel punched through its face – mouth opening, closing – eyes lidless, gills flared and gasping – each breath its own little death – but dear God if I’m not an eviscerated fish flopping with my bowels spilling out from my slit gut then just what am I here for – slowly, she slipped out of sleep, her skin shimmering like holy water – and my God, I’ve never loved a girl with a proper father – we pressed our bodies together like the sky buckling to its horizon – the split halves of the Red Sea folding into itself – une petite mort, writhing beneath her crown of thorns – and if I’m not hanging from nails in my hands by that sixth and final hour then what, then what – I swear – I’ll be your prince of demons if you be my dear God – a thousand little deaths with my fingers clenched against the arch of her bent spine – baptised as my muscles tighten against you – but still not – not ever – Father I cannot find you – mouth to mouth – hand to God – but maybe, just maybe – petite mort, buried in the catacombs of your flesh – the bell of your hisp ringing in my bones, calling me to Heaven in a chorus of little deaths: – Patris, filii, spiritus sancti – for an instant – Father Son Holy Ghost – a writhing fish plucked from the river, breathless – the sum of a thousand petites morts.