Monday, April 10, 2006

On The Wall

In the dim, beige room there was a crucifix.

In the great green room there was a telephone, a red balloon...

It was not a stripped, bodiless Protestant crucifix, a discreet, symbolic allusion to the gruesome event. It was the real, Catholic deal, down to the nailed palms, the arms pulled impossibly taut by the heavy torso, and the bent knees canted away from wood and away from the nailed feet. Seated against the wall, I noted the triangular space behind Christ's knees. His popliteal fossa. Was he at increased risk for blood clots ? A pulmonary embolus ? Even in the queer midafternoon darkness it must have been hot. He was bound to be dehydrated. That was even Gospel --

I thirst.

Not that a sip of vinegar would have done much for a serum sodium nudging 160 or the metabolic acidosis that must have been developing.

What was that interpretation of the cross ?

The intersection of time and eternity.

Was that from Simone Weil ? For the afflicted, cruel minutes creep by, like thick, stagnant, blood that a failing heart can barely circulate. What about that infinitesimal point where horizontal and vertical intersect ? Place your attention there.

Two floors down there was a great white room, three jars of oil, a palm-filled urn...

(a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush)

...and, on one wall, a tall cross covered with a collage of faces: old, young, men, women, black, brown and white. The body of Christ. On the wall opposite, an icon. A face with enormous, dark eyes.

Maybe religion is a bedtime, a bedside story.

Who is that quiet old lady in the rocking chair ? The one who whispers hush ? The one who whispers --

Goodnight moon, goodnight stars, goodnight air

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