Getting Religion


And there it lies, the body of a man with no soul. Right now it’s beautiful, smells
sweet and holds up to a surprising amount of cloud-spitting.
Forget it. Walk on. Emptiness explodes if you touch it. Tie the sound of the wind
rushing through a handful of willow branches to the silence following the swallow’s
passing and leave it there, hanging in the vacant air.
Or tell someone you saw it if you must. Remember where and who it belonged to,
what ribbons you adorned it with in your sentimental imagination. Don’t mention the
industriousness of the survivalist insects. By the time you remember what they’ve done,
they’re gone.
Nothing about this man could have threatened your life, but maybe you’re having a
bad dream now, based on something that wasn’t there. Yes, I was afraid to wake up,
perhaps. Or I could see myself in the expression he left with. Perhaps I’ll invent another
God to explain my involvement.
Long after you left, a breeze continued stuffing air into the dead man’s pockets. It
seemed to be saying we need a fatter horse and a larger cave. We need the story of this
village in the middle of the road. We need a region of completely inconsequential
involvements. We need some clerk who holds the numbers we agreed upon.
After that, I couldn’t move so I taught my mind to, but it had its own places to go.
Deep as a warm sleep on a cold night.
It stayed there and it taught me one thing and one thing and not anything else. I
learned to carry the rope without stooping or complaining.
Goat to goat and sheep to sheep.
Death isn’t lonely, it’s so crowded you can’t find yourself.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.