(please adjust the player to track 12 for proper reading)

 

VI (No word, to mark the sin):
On a young Thursday, my mother caught me
fondling a magazine I stole from the store. She
didn’t say anything. She didn’t cook me supper. She
didn’t tuck me in.

She simply stripped the sag of sheets off my nude
body and washed them. I stayed awake all night, my
mind shaking like the metal of our washing
machine, clanging and cleaning.

VI (Her word, to make us sick):
On a Friday, I faked sick. Kept home, I rolled in the
glow of late morning, slated streaks of day dipping
through the blinds across Mother’s big brown bed.

When she let the light in, she said, “God made sun
to make us well.”

She didn’t rest the back of her hand on my brow
and say, “Mothers have built-in thermometers.
Know that the heat of your face on my fingers tells
more than mercury in glass.”

She left me tussling beneath her covers, burning
beneath God’s sun.

After 40 weak minutes, my mother returned. She
rested a mug of warm water on the nightstand and
said, “God made water to make us well.”

I drank, praying it would sting, flow through cracks
in the cave of my throat, flush out lumps from the
crags of my voice, “I promise. I’m sicker than I’ve
ever been.”

She didn’t offer medicine, but a snug shush,
brushed in from her lips to my ear. Like a bristly
hymn, it tickled — a hushed hiss in rifts between
slithered ribs.

I soon begged God, “Appear beneath Mother’s
blankets and infect my body, like you did my
soul. Make me sick.”

Instead, I tossed and turned,
and burned
and burned
and burned.

VI (The Word, to make us die):
On a Friday, a wood cross scraped up the tan path
of a hill. It didn’t creak, and the man who carried it
didn’t cry. He didn’t rake his cracking tongue over
teeth to rub the sand out. He just swallowed
withered spit as water, and presented the palms of
his hands to the crowd at the peak of Golgotha.

From the group, a woman shawled in loose blue
broke through, tendering fingers for the man’s
grasp. She said, “Yeshua, don’t leave
me.”

He dropped his gaze, spoke in splintered timbre,
“Am I even Him?”

Before she answered, the crowd flocked in,
cramming tight like hackled black spines of a
feather. They spiked the man’s wrists. Stricken nails
pecked through him, clicking him to wood.

The cross rose by towed ropes, towered son
looming above, pale head glooming down from his
perch. He wanted to die, but saw his mother’s eyes,
glowering globes with wombs
inside.

In one womb: The whine of his childhood hushed
by the draft of her breath, Mother singing his
favorite songs through a sore throat, humming
God’s Word through a sore
heart.

In the other womb: Mother cutting a sheep’s white
throat, weeping so he would hear her and maybe
reconsider. Her whispering, “You don’t love me.
You’re not my Son. Ave Satana.”

When the man let his eyes close, the mother didn’t
say anything. She simply raised a wet sponge,
stabbed through by a stick, and held it
up to his lips.

He lived, reluctantly, briefly,
and sipped
and sipped
and sipped.

VIVIVI (Ave Maria)

 


 

In addition to being a writer, Andres Parada is pursuing a degree in sociocultural anthropology. He is also a performance artist, combining songwriting and video art for his ongoing project, Human Behavior. His art and ethnographic research both explore social geography in nonphysical space. Although his anthropological research addresses features of solidarity within online exchange structures, his music, video, and writing most often deal with the perception of space in prayer and afterlife. Andres has two sons, and one daughter. [The music is “I’m Sorry Your Saul” from Human Behavior off their release Golgotha.]

To hear more from Andre’s band Human Behavior, visit their website.

To read more macabre revisions of Christian mythology, order Four Chambers 01 here.