In God's Eyes
- November 20, 2022 for Mood Ring
in Brooklyn, New York
These years of life are unforgivable.
I have nothing but a paper that proves I can do things I never wanted to do.
But things changed when I saw a movie starring Mr. G. I started watching his movies at the suggestion of my local video store clerk. The clerk himself is a little unkempt, certainly unhappy, but he's always there. Since he's always there, and I'm always there, I figured that must mean something.
I rented some DVD's a couple weeks ago, but I left them untouched on my bedroom dresser. They collected dust and when I was fed up with looking at them, I made my return to the video store.
I half-listened to the clerk rambling to a customer as I aimlessly browsed through each aisle. Before I could talk myself out of leaving, he approached me and asked if I knew about a movie starring someone only known as "Mr. G." I said to him, no, I haven't.
I walked out of there with a yellow plastic bag full of Mr G's movies. I tossed them onto the passenger seat and I wondered how long it would take for those DVD's to collect dust too.
At first I watched a few, I thought nothing of him, he was like a paper doll glued onto the screen. The background was more important. Then I saw him on the news doing some kind of a local talk show special. I learned a little more about him. He was quite popular for someone in this town. He was alright.
But to others, I saw that he was important. He was this missing link. I didn't care about none of that, I'm already linked up in that way.
I didn't need the chain of connection, I didn't miss it when I had it either. A long time ago my mother died and I found myself willing and able to get back up again. I'd always wondered why death took some people down, and others not.
Did we pretend to stand up? Or were we always just lying down?
Well, I can admit I was pretty lonely at the time that I started watching Mr. G's movies. In a few scenes he looked younger and I even saw him much the way I saw myself: awkward, wholesome, realistic, maybe even a little bit boring. But again, I was never one with a type. He was just a man, much like myself.
It was when I saw him dance that I knew I couldn't stay the way I always was. The way I'd always been.
It was time to start moving.
I used to think that to learn to dance you had to kick your legs or wave your arms. But I found out the hard way that all you need is this bag of bones you call your body. I shook it, waved it around and heard it slap against the floor. This was dancing.
Thank you Mr. G, I say,
as I hit the floor, and make my bones rattle against strangers I don't know.
The way things were before I started moving, I could hate you Mr. G. I don't know who you are, but the way you make me want to take you apart,
and have a taste,
and make success,
and fake my death,
I hate you.
When you get on screen, when you talk your talk, walk that stupid ass walk, I find myself able to fuck and unfuck myself over and over again.
I love you, Mr. G.
Look at me, look at me.
I'm visible now, you dreamed of me.
That made me real,
now I'm real.
I replay the videos. They trip on themselves and time and time again I wish you'd come for me, Mr. G, like the Grim Reaper makes calls, make me dead, I have nothing to lose I'll end it all.
Give me the dream of silence, give me the dream of not-me,
give me the dream of guesswork,
the dream of anything but I know this and I know that.
Love makes me real and time makes me hateful. I'm like an artist the way I promised myself a pretty picture, the one my mother told me about, with the wife and the kids,
but you know Mr. G, the way you look tonight,
it's not like the movies.
I came to meet you, Mr. G,I had no expectations,
I didn't love you,
I didn't love your work,
I don't take myself seriously neither do you. But everything's so important, so important, so they say.
I just knew it when I started to replay those videos, you were going to sink your teeth into my head and rip out the streams of tinsel and glitter that ruined me and made me eat stale bread,
Let's say nothing of the positive wash, we washed it upon all,
you were just a movie star to me,
but here you are, my kids are away.
You're in my living room, asking me about the salt and pepper.
Thank you for coming, Mr. G.
You make me want to be someone else
In your gaze I am not myself
I am someone I want to be
Someone I swore off to be protected by God
I want to come back to Hell
I want to burn on your doorstep
I want to make sweet love to the past
Take my hat off and say who cares who you told
I love you just the same
You know I wanted to uncare
You know I wanted just to be
Here I am, see me now
I will take you to Hell with me
We'll stop controlling everything
To be good in God's eyes
We won't have anything to be proud of,
but we'll be okay
The question is, Mr. G,
will you come with me?
My Last Winter Alive
I was 14 years old when I died.
Winter was my favorite season. When it was cold, I could relax into my loneliness, and cry hot, waxy tears. Through blurry eyes, I could stare at the shining ornaments and the colorful orbs of light that danced on the Christmas tree.
When it was cold, I could sing Christmas songs with my choir. I sang at school and in town holding fake candles and real candles, wearing an itchy black dress and making music.
My last winter alive, I became a thief. I stole because there were things to steal.
I stole because I wanted so much.
What I wanted most was to have something I could share with others, whether I stole it or not. For Christmas, I stole underwear for the girls of my 8th grade class and handed them out complete with a card, a ribbon, and a candy cane.
I wanted so much before I died. This was before I had boots, makeup, this was before I had perfect pajamas. I had phone games, I had the news, I had books filled with words, but I didn't have you back then, I didn't know you at all then, and so I cried. What did I have?
I cried tears of joy, of designer drugs, of piercings, and I cried when I got away with it.I cried in the bathroom, I cried in my sleep. I cried.
The coroner's report read that I slipped and I fell. I didn't actually make it out of my last shower.
When I got to heaven, they assessed the damages as soon as I entered the gates. My right wrist was unusable, from a grip that held on too tightly. My left intestine had been attacking itself, refusing to digest the secrets I knew. My skin grew too thin, and they found me allergic to dust mites and household chemicals.
Here in heaven, there's more singing. At least there is still singing.
Here in heaven, we recently celebrated Christmas. I picked out a scented candle for everyone I know here. It was pretty easy to choose scents, all I had to do was think about how someone makes me feel. There were a few candles left over that I kept for myself. Sage, lavender, citrus and something else that I've forgotten.
Sometimes I do forget I'm in heaven because it's kind of like it used to be, just without a couple of people. I went back recently to find out how they were doing – the people I used to know.
They're doing fine. I would even say they're doing well.
After I died, they told the same stories about me over and over and over again. Nobody ever mentioned the Christmas gifts. But in heaven, that's all I think about.
With the Eyes of an Inner Angel
- Closing reception for Hunter Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix's show As the Blood of God Bursts the Veins of Time
at Gern en Regalia
- Rooftop Reading to close out the Printed Matter
East Village Zine Fair, hosted by Em Brill
I eagerly approached the resting spot and found myself slipping on the rocks, unlike the other tourists who had hiked the same few miles to reach the waterfall.I had visited this place just once, but I only saw one or two frames in my mind when I recalled the memory. This place was nothing like the only place I belong.
As I walked nearer to a steeper part of the trail, I felt behind me,
A drifting memory of misery I'd forgotten.
Though, I long for it now,
for fruits are too cold, too sweet
and myself so unwilling and so bitter.
I started onward, with a gaze upon the jade window.
In the distance, the window glistened, as if to distract me, and so I feared it as much as one can allow fear to guide them in the forest.
I saw you in its reflection, the way you always were, not one look on your face a language I am able to understand. The face I saw left me with too many questions. In that gaze, I saw that I’m always situated as the judge above you. There were too many times I felt that I yelped out to you,
"Don’t take me higher than this. Because it hurts me."
I tried not to look back at you, for my face will be cast in stone if I stare too long. Yet I looked back, and I found myself hoping this letter comes to you simply as more information about a person you once knew.
The truth as I knew it came to me, scratching and stretching my brain this way and that way. With the help of leftover light from the sunset, I saw my reflection in a shattered pane of the jade window.
I know now how sorely I regret having made you a stranger to my pain because you did not view me as I needed you to
with the eyes of an inner angel.
I looked forward and wiped tears off my face with the tips of my fingers. Huge ones off my lips, and smaller puddles that collected at the base of my neck.
At the end of the bridge, I hurried over to the trail marker and made sure the next path I took put the jade window far behind me.
The sky had grayed and looked vicious as it changed. The sun was peeking from behind a cloud that seemed too small to hide it. As the rain began to fall, I decided to sit underneath a large tree.
To my surprise, I looked down to find that my hands were much larger than they were at the beginning of the hike. In fact they were so heavy, when I laid them to rest at the base of the tree, they began to sink into the Earth.
And that's when I started digging. I began to pull up the roots with my huge hands, my huge wrists, my huge forearms. I dug deep into the cold Earth. I felt a bitterness so warm, and so holy, a bitterness that only I can stand. I kept its evidence under my fingernails.
You see, the person I am, down there, in the center of the Earth, it is who I am after all. Not your friend, neither your daughter, nor your lover. I decided after the next few weeks settled down, I would go there again.
A couple of weeks after my hike, many kept their eyes on me. I glistened the way a new bride must glisten.
All that was left was to join my huge hands with the hands of the other bandaged friends. The friends I made up back then, the friends I needed, the friends that are here now. They have done the honors of affixing a crown of hope to my head.
When the blood returned to my brain, I found that I did indeed need this reflection after all, the ability to look back and see your face. I cast my gaze downward, not looking into your eyes, as you might wish I would.
After the ceremony ended, you cornered me to tell me it was rude to refuse to pose for the photographer when she held out her camera. I thought to myself, "I am allowed to feel pain," and I told you, "I’m always situated as the judge above you." There were just too many times I felt that I yelped out to you,
"Don’t take me higher than this. Because it hurts me."
It all comes to an end now, after we've danced all night, where I am writing this on a table near a neat tray of hors d'oeuvres. Everyday, I am closer and closer and closer to another celebration like my wedding. Except now, I’m listening to the secrets of God, in kindness and in fury all the same, with her glowing hair, and her sweet golden voice that wants all the best for me. There will be no forced nakedness anymore.
I see now, that I have refused to see myself in the light of such a precious beam,
with the eyes of an inner angel.
I only wear my mother’s clothes. Well, not only her clothing, but some of the other pieces I do wear look awfully like the ones she gave me. I started to wear her clothes when I was around fourteen or so. It was just a cardigan here and there, but eventually, I was able to fit into her jeans, her skirts. Then it was jewelry, and just like that – the beautiful and polished items I only remembered from my childhood became mine.
She gave them to me or I took them myself. However, she does have an expensive wrist watch I've asked about, but she maintains the fact that its brokenness is not something I want to deal with. I have heard her complain only once that I took all of her clothes.
The last time I saw her I asked if she had anything I might like. I offered to spend the time helping her sort through her unwanted items in exchange for another unearthing of her completely full closet. Really, I was mostly excited at the prospect of looking at new pieces she was willing to let go of.
Her closet has highly stacked rows of florally printed shirts on the top rack. On the right, handbags nearly toppling down, all in their proper cases nonetheless. Beneath her main hanging rack, two drawer sets of three filled to the brim with pajamas. What I was most curious about was the laundry basket in the back. It was a dark sage green and was mysterious to me. There wasn't too much in there, though, there was her wedding corset. I tried it on, twice, and though it fit me, I found myself unwilling to bring it back to my apartment in New York.
This last time, though, after I'd selected my fifteen new prized possessions, she said that there was nothing left to take. She didn't speak with any sadness as she said this, nor any hidden scorn towards me. She was just matter of fact about it – there wasn't anything else left in her closet for me to take.
It's hard for me to understand what it means, but I feel like the clothes might keep coming every year. I mean, like every year until I'm dead. I could be her age, and would still expect to raid her closet with the same expectations. It hasn't ever really occurred to me that there could be an end to this.
I wear her clothes with dignity, hand washing or dry cleaning everything, hanging each piece delicately. No folding, unless we're talking denim or something like shorts. I've gotten into a regular habit of checking the label of every new garment I ever set eyes on and cross examining the materials with those of my mother's tastes. In other words, I can't wear any polyester without a twinge of guilt that suggests I'd betrayed my mother.
I feel like anything else I wear is a costume. It's a little like being naked. And with every thread that comes loose, I find myself loving this woman I’ve never truly known. I wear her memories and I must say her sadness fits me perfectly.
To this day, she won’t let me try on that wrist watch. After all, there is something that she won’t give me. I’ve come to believe I don’t want it at all. Not at all.
A month after the last time I took clothes from her closet, she sent over two extra denim skirts, and a shirt I didn't want. I've worn the shirt everyday for the past four days.
Published in Her Silk Skirt In My Beater Car, a zine by Em Brill for the East Village Zine Fair 2022
I have never been so busy. For example, I have a good friend that frequently visits. This is a time when others don't see me much at all. They might see me on the way to the store, or at a gathering, but otherwise, I'm hanging out with my friend.
We, the two of us, spend so much time together. I am the friend of someone who nobody else really likes.
We are like two peas in a pod. For example, I invite them to meals I make. They will convince me that I enjoy my vegetables more when they are pretty. They are right, they are right.
I explained to them that they can die by doing (or not doing) certain activities. For example there are exercise videos they would like to do, but we don't do them anymore because there were a few accidents. I explained to them that light weight training can be incredibly beneficial for someone in their circumstances.
There were a couple of other accidents that happened to them too that not too many people knew about. Actually, now that I'm thinking of my friend, a lot of people knew, but nobody really cared.
They explained that it would be difficult to die, but not because of stupidity, just that they explained to me life is a very long thing. In fact it's the longest thing to happen to anyone. And I certainly couldn't argue with that.
At the very least I believed they were not going to die because they've been my friend for so long. However, they told me what happens when they miss a meal, when they have a drink, when they see their mom. It's a bit confusing the way I get mixed up about what they say.
They may live forever for the very same reasons.
As good of friends as we are, I don't entirely understand them, I must admit. At once they were not very defiant when we met. In fact they took to a life of health, prosperity and deep intimacy with such ease after we started talking. They were a glimmer in what I would otherwise call a life full of useless information and measurements.
We will meet again this week, at last. Nobody really gets along with them, I understand that. So we hang out, the two of us together. Surprisingly we have similar hobbies and interests after all. We don't enjoy the company of others, but we make sure that other people don't exactly know just how much we love each other.
We make sure that the other is safe, although, nobody else likes my friend, and at times, I don't like my friend. Sometimes I don't like them one bit.