Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Vigil

i must have been eight years old the first time i saw Aslan. i'd already experienced several girlhood crushes, but the Lion ~ he was my first great love. and it was the terrifying, wrenching, insurmountable kind of love that you might put away into some unlit corner for a time because (wrench) the pain of it, but you could never, ever forget it.

oh God, the Lion's eyes as his mane fell onto the stone. the painful but determined resolve with which he laid himself bare!

i didn't know.
i did not know allegory at eight years old.
i did not understand sacrifice, or the precarious nature of life, or what it meant to give your life to the service of others.

i cannot speak for my sister who watched with me ~ she, five years old ~ we, holding hands in stunned silence and solidarity ~ both of us hating the cold white witch, and surely understanding in the depths of our created hearts what it is to be tempted.

i cannot speak for my sister because she must speak for herself, albeit from the other side now, where surely she has found Aslan alive, has touched his mane, has been healed of every hurt, every crush, every temptation to turn away.
.
.
Vigil
by QUAN BARRY

Tonight we will function like women.
The snow has gone away, the ice with its amniotic glare.
I clasp my sister’s tiny hand.
We will not turn away
Though spring, spring with its black appetite,
Comes seeping out of the earth.

The lion was sad. He suffered us
To touch him. When I placed the bread of my hands
In his mammalian heat, I was reminded
That the world outside this world
Is all vinegar and gall, that to be a young girl at the foot of a god
Requires patience. Timing.

The White Witch has mustered her partisans.
Because I am fascinated by her bracelets strung with baby teeth,
I will remember her as the woman
Who grins with her wrists. From my thicket of heather
I note that in her own congenital way
She is pure, that tonight she ushers something new into the world.

I cannot stop it. I cannot stop it just as in that other place
I could not keep the planes with their spiked fires from coming.
Though in this closed realm the smell of camphor is overwhelming
I have nothing but my hands to use
In ministering to the dead. Here too
My hands must suffice.

Hush now while I testify. They are shaving him.
The corona of his mane falls away
Like pieces of money. In the moon’s milk light
Her bangled wrists grin as she raises the blade.
Something is diffused. In whatever world he comes again
There will be women like us who choose to.
.
.
i wrote and re-wrote this until it spoke my piece, and then i checked the publication date of the bbc production, the one to which i refer.

it was nineteen-EIGHTY-eight, which means that i was eighteen and not eight, that my sister was fifteen and not five.  it means that i had a one-year-old daughter, and that i'd known more than just a few "childhood crushes."  it means that i knew a lot more than i did when i was eight years old.

but there's no changing this.  i wrote exactly what i see in my memory, exactly how i feel in my heart.  i was eight; she was five; we were holding hands.
.
.
in the first months after my sister died, i was searching one day for someone else to say for me what i couldn't.  it was a quick find, something i've known ever since was not an accident, and i go to her still when i don't know what to say.  Grief by Richard Brostoff via T.  whoever she is, she is also my sister.

if it seems i've followed her lead, then yes, absolutely.

No comments: